Paris, the Russian airliner, Lebanon: ISIS is enlarging the war

The center cannot hold.

The house of war comes to Paris. (Image: EPA, Etienne Laurent via UK Guardian)
The house of war comes to Paris. (Image: EPA, Etienne Laurent via UK Guardian)

his will be a quick update tonight, with less of the usual analysis, because I just don’t have time.

I have no doubt that ISIS is behind the recent attacks that have been spreading out around the Syria/Iraq theater.  ISIS has claimed responsibility for all of them, and it is credible that ISIS is behind them (although they are being executed through ISIS affiliates in each local area.  The core leadership of ISIS doesn’t have to be involved in planning or managing each attack, and I assume unless it’s proven otherwise that it is not).

But this is not a minor campaign of pinpricks from single-venue terror attacks, randomly distributed here and there.  This is a full-blown campaign: a strategy on ISIS’s part. Continue reading “Paris, the Russian airliner, Lebanon: ISIS is enlarging the war”

History strikes back: Turkey, Iran inevitably jockey over Syria

Interesting times.

Erdogan and Rouhani meet in modern times.  (Image via Aydanlik Daily)
Erdogan and Rouhani meet in modern times. (Image via Aydanlik Daily)

The beginnings of a dynamic are emerging, one as predictable as anything ever was.  “Turkey” and “Iran” (in their earlier as well as contemporary incarnations) have jockeyed over the disposition of Syria (and Mesopotamia) for many centuries, and now that the clamps of the post-World War I order have been released, they are going to do so again.

Michael Ledeen initiated a fresh focus on this with a short post late last week, in which he predicted that Iran would soon form a federation with Syria and Iraq, or at least with the nominal central governments that remain to them: an arrangement that would formalize the Iranian military presence for which the mullahs have big plans.  Says Ledeen: Continue reading “History strikes back: Turkey, Iran inevitably jockey over Syria”

“Islamism” and the West: How do you solve a problem like the AP Stylebook?

One word: freedom.

The Associated Press has decided that the word “Islamist” may not be used to describe anything objectionable.  Lori Lowenthal Marcus calls out the relevant passage from the news service’s newly revised stylebook:

[An Islamist is] an advocate of a political movement that favors reordering government and society in accordance with laws prescribed by Islam.  Do not use as a synonym for Islamic fighters, militants, extremists or radicals, who may or may not be Islamists.

Hmmm.  It’s an interesting question who will be called an Islamist by AP writers, given this definition.

Who is an Islamist?

Presumably, Continue reading ““Islamism” and the West: How do you solve a problem like the AP Stylebook?”

Observations on Obama’s trip to Israel: Apologies (Part 1)

More, and less, than meets the eye.

Obama went to Israel, and, as expected, gave some bland speeches and didn’t suggest putting anything new on the table in the now-defunct-in-all-but-name “peace process.”  To the question, “Why now?” the answer is that he is building a putative pro-Israel narrative for the 2014 congressional election (Jeff Dunetz has a nice piece on that).

The one thing that did come out of Obama’s trip is a pseudo-apology from Israel to Turkey on the Mavi Marmara incident in May 2010.  That leads to the first observation.

The history: Continue reading “Observations on Obama’s trip to Israel: Apologies (Part 1)”

Gaza: Least likely place to use US Marines to rescue American citizens?

Kooky deployment?

Why are we sending an amphibious readiness group (ARG) with a Marine expeditionary unit (MEU) embarked to sit off the Levantine coast?

US officials say it’s to be prepared for any eventuality, including the need to evacuate American citizens, as the conflict between Hamas and Israel heats up.

But let’s parse that.  Are the US officials suggesting we will need to evacuate Americans from Gaza?  And if we were to do that, what exactly would be the process?  Landing Marines from the 24 MEU in Gaza?  Flying helicopters from the ARG flagship, USS Iwo Jima (LHD-7), into Gaza? Continue reading “Gaza: Least likely place to use US Marines to rescue American citizens?”