Monday, September 07, 2015

From Bad to Freakin' Horrible

Since last I wrote,  Syria has taken another distinct turn for the worse. Not the least part of this is the far-more-evident problem of Syrian refugees seeking safety by storming the walls of the EU.

First the Syrian part. There are really no new developments to note, ISIS continues to be the 'pain in the ass' and bombing target it was last month.  Anti-ISIS operations in Iraq are as bogged-down as they have been since the great offensive to liberate Tikrit flopped last spring. The only good news there is that the bombing goes on, unopposed and unabated. But there are now some new 'boots on the ground' - the Turks have gone to war.

 No friends of the Assad regime, the Turks have been calling for his ouster all along but until this last fortnight, aside from allowing some 'free access' to those foreigners 'pouring in' to join ISIS  and setting up some camps for the hordes pouting out, the Turks haven't done much at all. Twitted, no doubt, by the USA - which is looking for all the coalition they can get - the Turks announced they'd be bombing targets in Northern Iraq. Problem was that when the bombs started falling, the folk underneath them were the other great Turkish 'dislike', the Kurds.

Now as we all know the Kurds are being 'prepped' as the saviors of most of the middle east for goodness, decency and the democratic way. They've been de-listed as world-terrorists, trained by the Israelis and the Germans, armed by America and supported by a number of military contingents from all he best warfighting nations in the free world. A start-up of Turkey's 'long war' with America's best 'friends and allies' was not in President Obama's game plan. The report that over 100 people have been killed in 'terrorist' attacks in southern and eastern turkey over the past two weeks does not bode well for a unified resistance to ISIS.

Turkey - last Friday - the Kurds strike back

It was briefly hooted around, this week,  that the Russians were coming 'on-side' to face down ISIS, and - it was hoped -  to stop supporting Assad. That hope was dashed yesterday when the Russian Foreign Secretary was called to hear America's concerns that the Russians were expanding their presence in Syria and substantially increasing Assad's supply of heavy weapons and aircraft. Fear that Russian Spetznaz operatives might somehow wind-up clashing with US special forces on clandestine operations in eastern Syria were mooted in some military websites.  Vlad pulled another 'fast one' while the gipper was contemplating Alaska.

The latest 'offensive' to recapture Ramadi has bogged-down (as all such Iraqi government operations seem to do). Somehow their hearts don't seem to be in taking back Sunni territory - even if the elected government does have the right. They'd have to fight the Kurds, too, for the chunk they hold.  If it wasn't for the on-going horror of the beheadment knives, the Shiites might just quit. I have a feeling Iran is saving something for later, right now they just want to not help America.

The war on terror is what it is but the western media are filled with the plight of refugees displaced by the war in Syria and Iraq.  The warm-up of Turkey's Kurdish trouble destabiliazed the area where most of the refugees have been placed, making them some kind of camouflage for the Kurds and potential targets for government retribution. Educated by the past 10 years,  they have wisely voted with their feet and headed for Turkey's Mediterranean coast.  No doubt happy to see them going, Turkey hasn't stopped them traveling to the Greek off-shore islands from where they are able to island-hop to the mainland and Europe. From Greece they travel north into former Yugoslavia and through that to Hungary. For a while it seemed that was the finish line. The Hungarians announced a border fence - not yet constructed - and no passage for refugees - or as they were increasingly described 'migrants'.  Numbers overwhelmed the border and a second attempt was made to stop them using the railways to head for Austria and Germany. Once again that failed and large numbers have managed to work their way to the German border. Angela Merkel is under some pressure to deal with the problem and just to-day the Hungarians - goaded no doubt by fearful fellow-members of the EU announced they were deploying troops to the southern border. Clashes between refugees and Hungarian police were reported to-day.

All it would take is another tragedy.

The first tragedy came last week in the form of one of those pivotal photo ops, this time of a dead four-year old on a Lido beach in Greece. The image shot round the world and initially generated a wave of sympathy - with the concomittent appeals for cash by western charities. The dead child may have accomplished more by dying than he ever could have in life - or he might have been the savior of mankind, but not any more. He did put a beaming, happy face on what to most people was something very safely ignored. The news also generated the typical spate of (mostly Australian) anti-moslem rhetoric about it being a 'scam', a fake a false flag,  a cover for creeping jihadis to avoid the invasion rowboats and have 'us' paying to import 'them' where they could do the most harm, etc.

 Aussie perspective

Somebody even 'reported' the grieving father to be 'living in luxury' in Turkey (as if), that he'd invented the story or fled Syria,  to "get new teeth". An English newspaper followed him, and his coffins, back to a ruined house in Kobane and photographed the funeral,  as well as the bombed town the family fled.

Daily Mail

The Prime Minister of Canada (which had rejected a sponsorship application for the boy's family - his aunt lives in Canada) ruminated, empathized, not only with Syrians but "the millions displaced" in the GWOT. He blamed ISIS for the plight and reminded Canadians that this tragedy shouldn't interfere with Canada's very necessary bombing of northern Iraq and eastern Syria.  He also pointed out what good job Canada had done with refugees on his watch, allowed as how we could do more but had to be careful about letting the bad guys sneak through with the needy. Eminently sensible considering he, personally, declared us a target in the anti-Islamic terror wars.

In a fit of hubris PM Harper was embarrassed this morning to be greeted by video of one of his 'team' running for reelection taking a leak into somebody's coffee cup. By such things are the mighty humbled. Something like that should happen to the jackass governing Australia - but it would just serve to make him more 'human'.   (Off topic but I just had to mention it.)

Take Those Gals Outside and Shoot Them

Yesterday morning (two weeks ago - mea culpa)  - up early - I happened across an interesting story that ISIS had recently shot 19 young women for refusing to (marry?) have sex with their fighters. The story of sex slavery among ISIS fighters almost differentiates them from all the other Islamic evils  - who have also been accused of massacres and lopping-off heads for the edification of the young 'uns too. But this particular tale - as recounted - the piece mentioned - by an unnamed "Kurdish official" who claimed it happened in an unnamed location last week - grabbed my attention, not only for the garish subject material, but also because of the vitriolic response of the readership.  The source was a CNN-affiliated site IN India, and the respondents, I assume, were Indians, outraged at the killing of a perfectly good answer to the national shortage of females, or something, and who were demanding that Europe, of all places,  get involved to stop it. Why they weren't calling on the Indian armed forces escapes me.

By 9:00 am the story was appearing in the Jerusalem Post and other Israeli media sources. By now the official had a name and other details and tie-ins to related stories (a UN official's 'slave price list'  a notable one).  The story spread westward, throughout the day, until CNN discovered its affiliate's piece in time for the evening news.

Today the story has spawned a host of 'studies' of ISIS predilection for sex slaves. One military site, in relation to Gen.  Odierno's  retirement, calling for the 'restrategization of Syria',  cited sex-slavery as a potential 'winning' strategy for ISIS and demanded a strategy to counter it. Sex slavery was all over the place to-day. The British Daily Mail upped the ante to accuse ISIS of securing young girls to the windshields of their captured 'humvees' as they drove into battle. The graphics used were the same ones used to accompany the sex-slaves stories from the day before.

Daily Mail; human shield

Daily Mail - rape is religion

The Mail is tabloid journalism at its finest, but for some reason more sober (WaPo, NYT) sources  (WaPo, NYT) seem to feel 'sensible'  citing  its material.   Note that in none of this - nor in the sober sources is there any fact checking, corroborating details of even the basis on which the story could be checked.  But the cry for revenge is noteworthy - any world leader considering slinging some bombs on Syria couldn't help but feel the effort was justified. Even Ghaddafi wasn't abusing little girls. .

All of this is remarkable in two ways. First there is a tremendous response from readers almost all of whom demand more European involvement in Syria. The Brits last week flew their first RAF sorties against ISIS targets - they had been flying USAF machines as seconded pilots before this time. The second aspect is that there is not one iota of corroborative evidence appearing in any internet sources, to back these stories up. That Kurdish official, who started it all, could qualify for a Pulitzer if column inches and volume of citations were the requirements.  But, stangely, he wasn't recorded giving his statement, nor asked about how he learned of it.  In fact no by-lines have been attached to the story, until possibly to-day - and it's strange with a capital S.

A Catholic news site in the USA  (Catholic Online) ran the standard story, but extended the work - with the same graphics, etc, into an appeal for prayer and one assumes donations, as if the dead girls and sex slaves are all Roman Catholics.   The interesting part is that it attributes the story to one "Abigail Jones"  at "News Consortium" - its own news service - and claims that Abigail wrote it on August 7th - a week before the world found out courtesy of India.

Catholic Online Story

If it wasn't for the hue and cry, and for remembering a heartbroken young woman from Kuwait (who turned out to be the ambassador to the US's  daughter) telling the UN of watching Iraqi soldiers empty incubator babies onto the floor (it turned out to be a 'story') in preparation for US 'warfighters' cheering as the baby-dumpers were carbonized when American air strikes 'caught' them fleeing a month later,  I might almost believe this. But it smacks of the kind of bullshit we need to make our wars 'right'.

Publishing this on September 1,  I can say that the 'outrage' dissipated as quickly as it arose. Save that the French are supposedly joining the English to bomb Syria  tomorrow.

 It apparently worked.