Half a year has now passed since June 2014, and the announcement by some terrorists in the Middle East of a new caliphate in Syria and Iraq. The declaration coincided with a supposed dramatic and rapid expansion of armed forces into the latter of those countries, with various towns falling into Islamic State (IS) control, and the very capital becoming threatened with a attack and occupation. Western corporate-media was splashed with pictures of gleaming Toyota pickups streaming through a desert landscape; masked men wearing camouflaged fatigues and desert boots (or shiny white trainers) paraded and posed in formation under their version of the skull and bones black flag. Celebrated as being a kind of Super-Al Qaeda, IS had the clobber as befitted an army trying to carve out a nation state where there isn’t room for one nor, according to either the Syrian or Iraqi sovereign governments, any desire for one. To the author, who has been watching what is essentially the next world war slowly revving up to speed (the British electorate need to step on the brakes next May), and who followed closely NATO’s invasion of Libya by proxy, the rise of IS was very strange – and at the same time very familiar. IS was originally a vehicle for the Iraq-based bogey-man Al Zarqawi, and it has since been revealed that any threat posed by that dreadful criminal (and “Gladio-B” “stay-behind” operative? [see here for more info]), and therefore his organisation, was overstated by the US Government in order to maintain a military occupation. Likewise, it appears very much that IS is still fulfilling the same kind of role for the same continuing western martial objectives – to trigger a US military presence in the name of confronting a great terrorist danger. There is much on the internet from very good alternative media sources that can be used to illustrate this, and to show to what extent the role involves an elaborate hoax. This article covers the same ground – not so expertly, of course – and with a certain focus, for there is one image of IS in particular that appeals to the author’s gut feeling and that clinches all for him. It is the picture of a masked IS operative (perhaps he is a westerner) caught in the act of propagandising to local people who have seemingly come under IS control – captured in pixels is the execution of a psychological operation as British military textbooks would prescribe. It is an image that screams of IS being a tiny tail wagging a huge dog, and it should be forever associated with the War on Terror in the same way that other wars have their own iconic images.
Previously known as al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), IS had already been but one component of a force ranged against the Syrian government even before the name change. But prior to that, AQI was apparently a force particular to Iraq. According to some, it was a reaction to the US invasion of 2004, and drew its numbers from the country’s Sunni muslims disaffected by the regime change.
If AQI had been quelled, as some say it was, recently the Iraqi government lost the support of Anbar Province tribes who obviously can suddenly make life much easier for forces antagonistic to the central Iraqi government wanting to base themselves in or traverse their territory. IS sprung into new and vigorous existence. In fact, when one compares one of the more optimistic maps of territory in Iraq said to be under the control of IS, and one of Anbar, there is plenty of overlap. The cities that IS apparently captured in their June blitzkrieg are all to the north; Mosul and Nineveh Province (except the Kurdish component) went one day, Tikrit and most of Saladin Province the next – which brought IS east and knocking on the doors of Baghdad.
In the above paragraph, the word ‘quelled’ was used in relation to a supposed diminishing of al-Qaeda in Iraq – on reflection, maybe the word should be replaced by a phrase, and that phrase should have been “sojourning in Syria”. The following extracts are from 2012 reports from Syria – a time when although the corporate-media was full of casual references to foreign fighters, it was still selling the conflict as a pure civil war:
“The commanders of the Free Syrian Army are all Iraqi,” he told me with a penetrating gaze and a slight nod of his head, to make sure I got the nuance – Iraqi Sunnis was the unspoken explanation.
Abu Salam al Faluji boasted extraordinary experience. Abu Salam, a rugged Iraqi with a black keffiyeh wrapped around his head, said he had fought the Americans in Falluja when he was a young man. Later he joined al-Qaida in Iraq and spent many years fighting in different cities before moving to Syria to evade arrest.
Unmentioned in these tracts (and understated even when it was mentioned), the main component of the foreign “Free Syrian Army” were fighters most recently employed by NATO in overthrowing Gaddafi in Libya. Indeed, the AQI bloc might not have been airlifted in wholesale through Turkey as the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group were, but it seems its ranks were full of Libyans nevertheless (recruited by the likes of Abdel Hakim Belhadj, according to Webster Tarpley [this link covers it]). The trouble in pinning these groups down is that they wear different hats for different appearances sake. For instance, when al-Baghdadi, the most recent leader of IS, met with John McCain, the US Senator and one-time Presidential candidate, he was wearing the hat of “FSA” commander. We know this because General Idris, the leader of the “FSA” was also present. We can with all reasonableness say that there is a high degree of inter-changeability between what are essentially extremist-Islamist mercenary groups receiving a lot of attention and support from the US Government. In addition, all roads for these mercenaries into Syria, wherever they come from, tend to lead from Turkey.
This applies for IS just as much. Even now it has a presence in Libya (which is proven as an origin for men and materiel coming into Turkey), and if AQI was ever based in Iraq, now its tracks do firmly lead back, through Syria, to the main nest, gathering point, supply source and staging area in Turkey.
Indeed, some maps of IS occupation are leaner than others, and show their occupation of Iraq (Anbar Province aside) in terms of dislocated points of control joined together by thin rat runs between them. From Anbar to the north-west a sliver running through Syria connects Anbar to Turkey. The undeniable proof of IS operating out of Turkey was the recent attack on Kobani from inside Turkish territory. Turkey is the launching pad for trouble in Syria and Iraq, and if the US and UK governments were serious about doing something about IS, they would do something about Turkey.
With all that history in mind, what perturbed the author so much when IS burst into the world’s consciousness is how it could be that the same people doing much the same as they always had been doing could suddenly be considered to be an organised armed forces representing a new country. For if we look at how IS operates, it is quite evident that not much has changed – and it begs the question, wherefore do the spectacular results come from? The advance through Iraq has been portrayed as a blitzkrieg, but it should be remembered that IS had been in those territories a long time using their “besieging” tactics (not to mention the possibility that Iraqi forces had been ordered to stand down “to increase pressure on Saudi Arabia and bring the threat of IS over-running its borders as well” – source [reporting this: source]).
If we are going to look at IS tactics (and bear in mind, this is based on the author’s reading of the reporting coming out of the area), the reference to “besieging” needs explanation. The mercenaries in both Syria and Iraq move into an area and for cover sit on top of, or amongst, a population – the people of which are inevitably described by western journalists as the support base from which the “rebels” have been spawned organically – whether it be a suburb of a major town, or a village in a rural area. Military operations launched from this base involve attrition by terrorism in the wider vicinity – suicide belt attacks, road-side and car bombs, and ranged mortar attacks. These are to degrade resistance, to have enemy forces occupy themselves in response (to never have an initiative) and to get them to expend resources and manpower. A full frontal assault seems to be a rarity and only when the objective is assured to be achieved – otherwise attacks consist of attrition-causing raids. For instance, just recently two bases in Idlib Province fell to the terrorists using US-supplied anti-tank weapons. This armament seemed to have been the factor by which al-Nusra, the group named in reports – although it all amounts to the same thing: al-Qaeda – felt it was able to tip the balance in an attack to displace Syrian forces. This is a big story in itself, but for our purposes here we must notice how these particular bases were under siege for two years. The NYTimes story actually uses the very words “under rebel siege for two years”. It’s a strange sort of siege that lasts for two years this side of the Medieval period – unless it is of the peculiar type being discussed here. Arguably, long before the IS rampant march through Iraq, towns like Tikrit had been suffering this besiegement and softening up treatment. In 2011 there was an infamous terrorist attack on the Saladin provincial council’s headquarters involving mercenaries disguised as Iraqi soldiers, car bombs and suicide vests.
In terms of IS ever being on the defensive, whenever one reads about the Syrian Arab Army snuffing out mercenary units, they do it by eliminating nests from which the terrorists stage their operations, or by ambushing them as they move through their rat-runs. One also gets a sense that the terrorists abandon an area when faced with an overwhelming oppositional force, and move to a new one. This means that snuffing them out involves a good deal of ping-pong from one place to another, which means that the terrorist can lengthen their useful operational life and presence on the battlefield. The best way to visualise al-Al-Qaeda activity in Syria and Iraq is as a number of submarines in a sea, rather than as massed ranks of men and war machinery. It also appears to the author that the blitzkrieg in Iraq was more of a matter of flooding the country with more, perhaps better equipped, terrorists, rather than an army pushing forward in fronts and being able to militarily govern occupied area. The inundation pushed the terrorist farther, but not in depth. Imagine a flat plain with deeper trenches surrounding higher-lying levels. Water poured onto the surface will drain into the trenches to make islands – but the plain itself will dry out.
As just briefly mentioned, the long process of prior besiegement in points on this landscape will undoubtedly have had something to do with the ability of IS to grow so rapidly on the ground at the same time it was bursting into western awareness. That expansion in summer 2014 brought about one new particular occasion to see in ‘real time’ how terrorist forces are brought to bear on their opposition in Syria: Kobani. This Kurdish town has perhaps become the most famous centre of anti-IS fighting in Syria. Since Turkey allowed Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga fighters to cross its border into Kobani at the end of October, things have been going better against IS. However, the following reports were made before that, and show that there was a problem with engaging IS – based on their tactical nature:
“Clashes were focused in the Southern and Eastern parts of the town. We thwarted several of their (ISIL terrorist) attacks,” a senior Kurdish official, Ismet Sheikh Hasan said.
“We are defending (the town) but … we have only simple weapons and they (terrorists) have heavy weapons,” he added.
“The US-led airstrikes were not effective,” Hasan said, urging the international community and the United Nations to intervene.
“Air strikes alone are really not enough to defeat Isis in Kobani,” said Idris Nassan, a senior spokesman for the Kurdish fighters desperately trying to defend the important strategic redoubt from the advancing militants. “They are besieging the city on three sides, and fighter jets simply cannot hit each and every Isis fighter on the ground.”
He said Isis had adapted its tactics to military strikes from the air. “Each time a jet approaches, they leave their open positions, they scatter and hide. What we really need is ground support. We need heavy weapons and ammunition in order to fend them off and defeat them.”
When one thinks of a conventional besieging force, one imagines it to be a sitting duck for an enemy who dominates the skies. In fact, when writing of this siege, some journalists and columnists describe Kobani being pounded by heavy artillery as if it were World War I trench warfare. What is being described is a static situation. The question that this automatically begs is why hasn’t US air strikes routed the enemy? In actuality it appears that the besiegement of Kobani is being done by a force that can melt away so that it can’t be demolished where it stands by air power. True, IS is said to have heavier weapons than the Kurds, but these can still be highly mobile, or even dispensable. Perhaps the Kurdish spokesman was talking about the same kind of US-supplied anti-tank weapons used to capture the Aleppo bases mentioned above?
The turn of the tide in Kobani has, by the shapers of conventional wisdom, been put down to American air power and better co-ordination with Kurdish forces (for that, perhaps read covert NATO forces embedded within). True, IS would have to form into more traditionally shaped units when it wanted to attack en-masse to dislodge the Kurds from their positions, hence leaving them vulnerable to air power, but why would we believe that they would try to do this? The pattern has been one of long drawn out wars of attrition, and surviving to prolong the sieges.
In fact, according to one up-to-date report, IS are trying a new guerrilla tactic after other ones have failed; noticeably it doesn’t say that IS gave up making full frontal assaults on Kurdish positions after they had failed. Although airstrikes are mentioned, the important factor in frustrating IS has obviously been the presence of troops; where there are boots on the ground, access is denied to territory from which to operate.
Kurdish fighters are reportedly in control of more than 60 percent of the Syrian border town of Kobani as the ISIL terror group has lost ground in the strategic territory.
The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Saturday that Kurdish forces made the gains with the help of Kurds from Iraq and the US-led coalition airstrikes.
“IS (ISIL) has even left areas that the Kurds did not enter for fear of mines,” the UK-based group added.
Mustefa Ebdi, a Kurdish activist from the town, also said the Kurdish forces had advanced eastward on the frontline during the past week, adding that the terrorists are “now using tunnels after failing in their tactics of car bombs and explosive belts.”
So summing up, Kobani gave us an opportunity to watch IS after it had become infamous – and it told us that, afterall, IS is not a mass-ranked army that can be strafed in columns as it advances – which is the impression that the world is supposed to have. On that supposed fact we have all been deceived. This brings us to the photograph introduced at the top of this. For it seems certain that if everyone else in the world is to believe that IS is a Super Army, the people on the ground and in the IS-occupied areas have to believe it first. This image, when it appeared in the Wall Street Journal in August 2014, was presented with the following caption: “An Islamic State militant uses a loudhailer to announce to residents of Tabqa city that Tabqa air base has fallen to Islamic State militants, in nearby Raqqa city, on Sunday.”
Therefore the image tells us that, apparently, IS has a branded people carrier which is used by its personnel to drive from place to place to inform them of IS successes – to deliver propaganda. What is being shown in the image is the execution of psychological operations to bolster the perception of IS military impressiveness. If the reader is not familiar with psychological operations, then be sure to follow the links here and here to find out more. The first is to a 1960s document (previously restricted) called the “Staff Officer’s Guide to Psychological Operations”. It’s a bit old, but it is relevant – see the preface in which it is explained that “psychological operations” is a term that replaces “psychological warfare” to reflect the use of this military tool in support of a civil power – basically, it is a weapon to be used on a civilian population as much as a military enemy (and incidentally, the British people suffer psyops from their government on a daily basis).
Most pertinently in this document is “Chapter Four – Loud Speaker Operations”. It is a section that points out the capabilities of using loud speaker equipment – and hand held bull horns are specified as being fit for purpose – to include:
Shock value: The shock effect of a loudspeaker broadcast can be very valuable is assisting psychological impact of the message. This is particularly so in the case of surrender appeals.
Other points of advantage are how literacy is not a factor in the delivery of the propaganda, and how the delivery method is mobile so “it can be brought to bear swiftly upon a selected target”.
The other link leads to a recent document entitled “15 (United Kingdom) Psychological Operations Group, Annual Report 2007/08”. Please notice the many pictures of British Army personnel visiting Afghan villages with bundles of glossy newspapers with the Union Flag printed on them.
This brings us to dealing with this question: if IS is in itself a psyop, whose is it? Let’s briefly re-examine the evidence – it has clear supply links back to a NATO country, it uses armaments provided to it by NATO countries, it uses non-lethal equipment for propagandising – again famously supplied by NATO countries. The answer seems to be becoming clear – but there is a problem. Why would the US and the UK bomb its own asset in Syria and Iraq? One solution is this: it isn’t – at least not as much as we are being lead to believe. Consider the following extracts from a December 12th McClatchy Washington Bureau article:
The American war against the Islamic State has become the most opaque conflict the United States has undertaken in more than two decades, a fight that’s so underreported that U.S. officials and their critics can make claims about progress, or lack thereof, with no definitive data available to refute or bolster their positions
The dearth of information by which to judge the conflict is one of the difficulties for those trying to track progress in it. The U.S. military, which started out announcing every air mission almost as soon as it ended, now publishes roundups of airstrikes three times a week. Those releases often don’t specify which strikes happened on what days or even whether a targeted site was successfully hit. McClatchy has discovered that in some cases, the location given for bombings has been inaccurate by nearly 100 miles.
One could believe that the US military isn’t trying very hard to hit IS. When there are reports of targets in the media, we also find a constant background of damage to Syrian infrastructure; consider the following for instance (emphasis added):
Eight of the 10 airstrikes by the U.S.-led campaign against ISIS in Syria were in the contested border town of Kobane near the Turkish border, the U.S. military said.
The Combined Joint Task force said two other strikes hit a crude oil collection point near Dayr az Zawr and an ISIS weapons stockpile near Raqqa, in the province where a Jordanian pilot was taken captive in northeast Syria.
The above report was recent – this is a sample from back in September:
U.S.-led coalition air raids targeted towns and villages in northern and eastern Syria controlled by the Islamic State group, including one strike that hit a grain silo and reportedly killed civilians, activists said Monday.
Washington and its Arab allies opened their air assault against the extremist group last week, going after its military facilities, training camps, heavy weapons and oil installations. The campaign expands upon the airstrikes the United States has been conducting against the militants in Iraq since early August.
Ismet Sheikh Hassan, a senior official in the Kobani region for the Kurdish militia, said the extremists fired rockets and tank shells at the city from the southeast, while some 1,000 militants amassed to the west.
Notice – an apparent ammassing of 1000 “militants” which somehow wasn’t wiped out? One thing to be sure about is that the “bombing of IS” is definitely making a substantial strip of Syria worthless to the Syrian Government and nation. This is clearly an act of direct war – and apparently one that the Syrians didn’t think worthwhile upping the ante to try and prevent. Be that as it may, just because it isn’t being opposed militarily, it doesn’t stop it qualifying as direct aggression. Secondly, the reader needs to appreciate that there is very good reason for the especial interest in the fate of the town of Kobani. The bombing of IS approaching Kobani will be used as a poster-child for direct US intervention in Syria to re-ignite the attempt to overthrow the Assad government. This much has been remarked upon by a member of Iran’s military top brass (“a plot to provide an excuse for the US-led coalition to start a military build-up in Syria,” said General Hassan Firouzabadi). The reader will also notice that Khorosan, the completely new terrorist organisation which was invented earlier in 2014 to provide a direct threat to the US – and so was cited as the reason for the bombing of Syria – has disappeared completely. This is exactly the same game that NATO played in Libya where responsibility to protect quickly turned into open support for the terrorists because that had always been the prior intention. The successful defence of Kobani will become the ringing endorsement for more US/UK bombing, and for intervention generally, in a chicken and egg scenario that no one will much bother to try and unscramble to re-discover the fake impetus and the counterfeit nature of everything that followed it. The target is Assad, not IS, and this is the crux of the great deception of 2014 – the biggest that has been perpetrated since the one of 2001 when the War on Terror was born.