MY Talk at ASMEA Conference. The Russian Middle Eastern Tar Baby in the Middle East

I gave a presentation at the  Association for the Studies of Middle eastern and Africa on Monday & Nov at The Georgetown Marriott in Washington DC. It was mostly a gathering of scholars and their interest  military affairs is always somewhat less than enthusiastic but I made my points I think. The summation of the paper follows.

“The Russian traditional view of their army was that the Russian soldiers were blessed with compensatory moral qualities that allowed them to fight with inferior equipment yet to prevail nonetheless. They were considered to be capable of outlasting and eventually outfighting militaries of other nations.

My father, Russian born, the son of an officer in the Imperial Russian army, always believed that no soldier in the world could fight so fanatically as the Russian soldier, despite his perpetual incompetent commanders, poor training, inadequate equipment, and despotic political leadership. According to the German generals interviewed after WWII, the Russian soldier had no initiative, no ability to think on his own, and his/her discipline was obtained by fear. But nevertheless, the Russian soldier was feared more than the Western soldier. His stoic endurance was phenomenal.

 Many observers of the Russian army in WWII   wrote about the “soul” of the Russian army.  One wrote, “Materiel explanations of the Soviet victory (WWII) are never quite convincing. It is difficult to write the history of the war without recognizing some idea of the Russian soul or spirit that mattered too much to ordinary people to be written off as mere sentimentality…….”

So what has happened to produce the Russian debacle in the Ukraine and the “Soul” of the Russian soldier? My answer is the Middle East happened.  Since WWII, the Russians have been intensively involved in the greater Middle East beginning with invasions into Iran, to using local communist and anti-colonialist organizations to secure their presence.

Battle of Borodin 1812. tactical French victory. Strategic defeat

The conventional view sees the Russian   interests centering on Europe, but the intensity of the Russian interest in the Greater Middle East has been surfaced more recently by historians using new information. They have concluded that the Soviets were willing to risk nuclear war to support Egypt in their war against Israel.  In Fact, the great Russian thinkers have always evidenced a fascination with the Islamic world from Tolstoy to the present.


Pushkin The symbol of the Russian “soul.”

One factor usually missed in assessing the Russian interest in the Middle East are the congruities in Russian and Middle eastern culture. The one that stands out is the historical animosity and /or indifference to the West. Bernard Lewis in the Crisis of Islam captured the Middle Eastern ignorance of the West, by an indifferent Islamic civilization, and Isaiah Berlin described  the  Russian xenophobia, writing, “with the possible exception of Turgenev, there is no great Russian writer, who did not suffer from Xenophobia, amounting at times to acute hatred of the West.”  Tolstoy believed the West was in rapid decline and rotting.  Pushkin , the father of the Russian soul   was adamantly anti -Western in his writings. I believe this factor played out in the general reluctance of Islamic Middle Eastern nations  to condemn the invasion of Ukraine.  As always, The secular West’s ignorance of the power of religion and culture in world events is intrinsic to many our miscalculations.

Bernard Lewis. Author of many books including the”Crisis of Islam” and “What Went Wrong.” While most academic with their heads in the clouds ( or more honestly up their collective asses), always how the West misunderstands the East…the major problem is that the East has never understood the West and because of the buffoonery of many Western academics they persist in their beliefs of cultural superiority.

In the paper I identify a number of other cultural congruities, particularly fatalism, that affect, or in fact afflict, both Russian and Arab militaries,  such as the absence of a professional Non Commissioned officer corps, and a mediocre junior officer corps. Like the Middle Eastern armies, The Russian senior officers are largely politically vetted for regime loyalty with widely varying degrees of competence. Both Middle Eastern and Russian armies are guardians of the regime but at the same time pose a  threat.  This requires top heavy centralized command  resulting in a loss of individual initiative at division or corps training levels.

Sergei Shoigu Minister of defense since 2012. Mostly incompetent but loyal to Putin and that its what matters

My purpose in this paper was not to review the Russian counter-insurgency doctrine, a doctrine  which  I discovered the Russians did not have. Nor is my paper to detail the incompetence in which they pursued operations in Chechnya and Afghanistan, but rather to surface the rot which affected the martial qualities of the Russian army and basically destroyed its fighting abilities.

It began in Afghanistan with a superbly orchestrated take over from the  Amin regime, in  1979 and ended with an orderly evacuation 1989. In between however, was a miasma of incompetent   military and political leadership, with the slow disintegration of the soldiers’ willingness to fight a losing war.

Troops in Afghanistan

The glittering objectives  of the Russian leadership to create a socialist and secular Afghanistan  was duly accompanied by huge armies of advisors, both military and civilian,  but building a new Afghanistan soon turned  sour. And with that reality came inevitable corruption at all levels of the Russian administration and military command. From private soldier to senior officers, the basic desire was to survive and bring home Consumer goods unavailable in Russia but sold at village suqs.

The Afghan rebels were a brutal enemy and their brutality was matched by those of the Russian soldiers. They grew to hate the Afghans, the people  they came to save from the evils of tribalism and primitive religious customs. As one Russian soldier wrote“they made boys into murderers.”  Long periods of boredom punctuated by short periods of terror, a common element of insurgency wars created an environment of drunkenness and drug use. Attacks on commanding officers were  not uncommon.

One of the most egregious problems of the Russian army was dedovoshina…hazing but having no relation whatsoever to the college fraternity type. New arrivals into units were often beaten to a pulp, and having senior enlisted rank did not preclude this. Sgt Majors along with privates were beaten by those who had been in the units longer. The officers turned a blind eye.

Over time the government claim of idealism evolved into inevitable cynicism and resulting indiscipline.  Not only were the tactics poorly executed but even the individual equipment of the Russian infantryman was in many cases inferior to that of the Fedayeen. The Russian soldiers often sold their equipment, including small arms, to the Afghans for decent food,  drugs, and consumer goods.  .

However the horrors of the Afghan war for the ordinary Russian soldier was dwarfed by the savagery and cunning of the Chechen rebels, spurred by nationalist fervor, radical Islam, and a hatred of the Russians founded on hundred  years of war as captured by Tolstoy in his book the Raid.


Chechens fighting for RUSSIANS IN UKRAINE

The Chechens decapitated soldiers leaving their heads on the curbs of the main streets of the cities. They took videos of the crucifixion of Russian soldiers.  The Chechens regularly baited ambushes with wounded Russian soldiers, springing the trap on would – be rescuers and then killing the wounded. The fear of the Chechens     was a counterpoise to the fear of the senior soldiers in the barracks. One soldier wrote.

“Short-haired boys, sometimes morose, sometimes laughing, beaten up in our barracks, with broken jaws and ruptured lungs, we were herded in to this war and killed by the hundred. We didn’t even know how to shoot: we couldn’t kill anybody; we didn’t know how.”  Of Course Chechen brutality was not only reciprocated but sanctioned  by the Russian chain of command.

 The Russians entered Chechnya, confident that a show of force similar to Afghanistan would be sufficient. The result was a humiliating beating that turned the domestic Russian population against the war.  Yeltsin gave way to Putin, who promised to make Russia a world power again.  Using greater violence, less infantry involvement, a lot more artillery and missile strikes, and better use of elite troops and pro -Russian Chechen tribes, the Russians devastated Grozny for the third time and gradually subdued the Chechens.

With the bloodless and efficient takeover of Crimea in 2014  the Reenergized Russians Moved  back into the Middle East with expeditionary forces sent to Syria and Libya, making use of their newly organized Wagner units of professional contract forces.

Syria offered Russian redemption of their military prowess. Most Western analysts were highly laudatory of the Russians seemingly regaining military competence with emphasis on command and control, and technical improvements in organization and war fighting capabilities.  however the depiction  of a more  modernized and reformed  Russian Military  proved to be illusionary.  In my estimation the Russian military experience in Syria was akin to a military sand table exercise with added realism of human blood. As in Afghanistan and Chechnya, the Russians used airpower and artillery firepower to   devastate urban areas.  Civilian casualties were unlamented.

Russians in Crimea

Over all the Syrian adventure added little to Russian proficiency in military terms. Although the Russians rotated many battalion commanders through Syria for three-month tours, for the most part they tended to be long on tourism and short on military lessons learned. In the end The Russian deployment in Syria was a political success but a military failure. The soldiers, NCO’s, the so called – strategic corporals and junior officers, with exception of perhaps a few in the logistics and technical services, got nothing out of Syria, as we see in Ukraine.

Overall, the Russian military advisory efforts, including 60000 advisors in the Middle East, with the exception of Egypt, achieved little success in military terms. They failed to create professional regime protection forces. In Egypt, the Russians with far more hands-on involvement than previously thought did enable to Egyptians to cross the Canal, surprising most of the world’s intelligence agencies.

So in summing up. Three points

The greater Middle Eastern involvement of the Russians have adversely affected their military ethos in several ways: first of all, the long involvement fighting or assisting the third world societies of the region engrained an unsavory criminal duplicity, using surrogates to do the dirty work, and immersion into a culture rent apart by corruption, sectarianism, and fanaticism. The accompanying aspects of a war of attrition, in a quasi-counterinsurgency mode lends itself to malfeasance and cynicism. Part of this is dealing with the environment of an outwardly friendly or submissive people who by day  cut your hair but by night your throat.; it ingrains a certain cynicism toward human nature, breeding a casual brutality that carries over to the next war.

Secondly, Secondly, the nature of fighting low intensity conflicts, particularly in the Islamic world creates a mindset and way of war that is not easily erased for the next conventional war. I witnessed the gradual destruction of the American army in Vietnam, and the waste and the debilitating effects of  second Iraqi war. In the Middle East the Russians suffered the same fate.  Moreover the Russian high command succumbed to the American malady of technophilia…dictating a Panglossian  view that wars  can be won cheaply and ultimately creating institutional oblomovism.

Thirdly, these wars in the Middle East were unheroic wars, the heroes are few and quickly forgotten. Veterans of combat duty in Africa, Egypt, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Chechnya, often went unrecognized, not only by the higher command but the general population as well.   Bodies were sent home in zinc coffins, never to be opened, casualties were lied about, the wounded returned to an ungrateful and uncaring nation. Soldiers often preferred death to amputations because seriously wounded or disfigured soldiers were simply warehoused by the regime. Missing soldiers were never found and there were no governmental attempts to find them.

The Islamic culture and society of the Middle Eastern have always had a pernicious effect on outside armies dating from the Persian expedition of Xenophon, Napoleon’s army, the many British campaigns to preserve their Middle East empire, now the Russians.  I do not believe we have  escaped that curse.

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The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. A Paper Tiger?

The protests and general chaos continues in Iran and   there are some indications that someone or some group  inside Iran is orchestrating the continuing violence. An example is the burning of the Sepal bank which handles the money for the IRGC, helping to the paralyze the Mullah economy.Families of the Regime officials are beginning to depart the country. More industries employees are striking and work is sporadic in many parts of Iran. The forty day mourning tradition of the Shi’a assures that the motives for the protests, revolution, will continues ad infinitum…..unless the regime employs all their forces in a hugely bloody conflagration. They have done done so yet. Why not? They are afraid the same thing that happened to the Shah will repeat itself..i.e. the soldiers will begin to join the revolutionaries. They are obviously not sure of their troops loyalty, especially the  regular army (Artesh) which has always been suspect,  hence the formation of the IRGC, and the Basij. However there is good evidence that at the Soldier level, the IRGC soldier is as poorly trained and as indifferent to his service at the average Artesh  soldier. As in the Shah’s army the recruits  in the Atesh and IRGC are treated poorly by their officers,  and the NCO corps is mostly useless and equipment poorly maintained. Junior officers are poorly motivated and lack initiative. The senior officers are a mixed bag, selected for regime loyalty as much as competence.

Mohammed Bahgeri Chief of Staff of Iranian Armed forces, which includes Army, Navy, Air Force, and Air defense

Their level of  military prowess  has been measured too often in the West by their “show and tell” and “splash and dash” military exhibitions of missile firings  and ludicrously boastful proclamations of their generals to wipe Israel off the map..etc. Since the end of the Iran-Iraq  in 1988, the Iranians have not tested their military. It has atrophied a great deal and in a number of categories was not that competent in the war: For instance, Depending on using teenagers for human mine detectors to cross Iraqi barbed wire and minefields. The “elite” status of the IRGC is not really warranted, the “Quds” Special Forces wing of the IRGC is an Elite force, but generally in  plotting foreign sabotage, inciting mobs, terror operations, etc. not general warfare, or even domestic regime protection.

Hossein Salami commander of IRGC

In essence, the Iranian armed forces are a hollow shell with a shiny exterior that hides the rot inside. They lack the Islamist fervor for “death,” as so loudly proclaimed by various Islamist groups that  chant that they “welcome death.” In fact, the leaders of these organizations are always carefully guarded by numerous guards and flee to bunkers  when danger is near. Their followers have become more cognizant of this and the zeal has plummeted.

Ismael Quanni CO of Terrorist Al Quds organization

The families of these Iranian leaders are not feeling secure these days as the protestors go to the same schools as their children, the spoiled brats of the religious elite, military officers, and bureaucracy of the Iranian regime. Some may even be participating in the protests.

The bottom line here is that the Iranian regime is on life support and even if it survives, its power will be greatly diminished. Taking a predictive plunge I do not think the Islamist regime of Khamenei  will, survive in its present form, meaning that the theocracy is dead.



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Will The Protests in Iran lead to all-out revolution? Heart says yes. Head says NO

First a vignette. My Iraqi friend goes to her favorite Persian restaurant in   NOVA and asks the owner, a nice Persian  fellow what he though of the protests in Iran if he thought it would lead to revolution and he said only if America intervenes. How so my friend asks. He responds only American can stop the problems in Iran because they are behind the Iranian government. The Americans control the Mullah government he says.

Second vignette. Shi’a parents of an Iraq friend, both well educated and liberal in many ways complain my friend is becoming too Americanized and complain the problems in Iraq are all because of the United States and their support/opposition to/ for the militant  Shi’a groups such as the Badr organization, The Iraqi Kata’ib Hezbollah and Asaib al Haq. It wasn’t clear if the Shi’a militants are the good guys or the bad guys, but in reality the bottom line is that the continuing turmoil is the fault of the United States.

Yep. It’s all the Americans fault. We even had a recent president run around the world affirming that.

Realistically had there been no Operation Iraqi Freedom, Saddam would still be running Iraq, or some members  of the Takriti clan, probably Uday and Qusay. But most  Arabs continue to believe that somehow a perfect world can be achieved if only the right leader is in power. Shades of gray are rarely considered in the Arab culture or Iranian for that matter.

Having written those two examples, which are by no means isolated opinions, how can we see a successful Iranian revolt coming to fruition with a democratically elected leadership?There is no a single Arab, Iranian, or Turkish democratic nation in the Middle East. Since the advent of Erdogan one can cross Turkey off the democracy list. Why is this?

Uday’s “love Palace.”

Well, Democracy is difficult and requires many  decades, are more likely centuries of development, and it is an extremely fragile form of government.

In the West and the United States, we see the politicization of the intelligence and law enforcement agencies and a willful blatant disregard of laws the establishment elite do not like. The trends are all in the wrong direction and as usual most people are apathetic and unwilling to face the truth.

What’s on TV? IS Candide a sister of Kim Kardashian? Who’s on first?


The Middle Eastern societies simply do not have the political culture  that allows a democratic trend to thrive. Majority rule does not define democracy. Only if the minorities in political orientation, races, religion are protected and allowed full participation in the political process. Even under the Ottoman rule, and the Millet system, while Jews and Christians at times rose to positions of wealth and power, but that was only as long :as they knew their place.” The Jews are gone, evicted or left due to understanding thy had no future and only a few Christians remain, hostage to the Islamic governments that use them as political fodder Example The “swine flu” epidemic in Egypt in which the livelihoods of  Christian pig farmers were eliminated because the ruler needed to blame someone other then the usual  incompetence and indifference of the government.

So in Iran I would love to see some sort of democratic government emerge from the wreckage of the Mullah regime but  I cannot make myself believe it. Each morning I check to see if the protests are sill going on in Iran  and happy if they are but not sure how much I am reading is true.  Is it all just wishful thinking?

The protests, as they are occurring now, are unlikely to lead to anything revolutionary…. why?

–They have no central leadership

–Iran is a multi-ethnic, multi national society with centuries of antipathy toward one another. Kurds,  Baluchis, Turkoman, Arabs, Azeris and many diverse tribes all want a voice. Will the patricians of the Persian elite allow it? I doubt it.

–Against the Ethno/religious leadership of Persians intertwined with the economic power of the Mullahs and the military power of the  SS of Iran, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, and the Brown Shirts of Iran, the Basij, ordinary people have no chance. As in all despotic lands people are denied weapons of any real use and are powerless. The power to take away ones livelihood  by state machinery, using executive powers,  -as we are beginning to see here in the United States- is more effective in curtailing uprisings than  using capital punishment.

So unless the Despotic mullahs, the IRGC and Basij suddenly lose  heart and thrown in the towel as the Shah did , I see no future for the continued protest and  uprisings in Iran. I fervently wish otherwise but I just do not see it.





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Iran. The domestic conflict continues

There are eerie similarities between the situation in Iran today and the rebellion which overthrew the shah. The most critical one is the continuing strikes of key industries in Iran. One for the telling and critical tipping points in the revolt t against the Shah was the strike of the oil workers. Iran’s life blood is oil and  with their  feeble economy it will not take much to fall into a desperate  economic situation. Also rumors continue to make the rounds that some of the Iranian officials are worried about their families and looking for safe havens. There are also hints here and there that some Iranian officials are talking about mistakes and condemning over reaction by the Basij. This reminds me of the fact that the shah in an desperate attempt to pacify the mobs put his former security chief in prison. The problem with these tepid moves to ameliorate the anger of the protestors is that history shows that once a despotic regime lifts its heel..however slightly…. off the throat of the people it loses control.

However the protestors have no leader, apparent unity, or clear cut objective. Moreover it appears that the major problem is in the Kurdish areas. The Regime  leadership can manipulate this situation into a Persian vs Kurdish conflict  to deflate the protests.

One thing for sure, if the protests fail to materialize into something  more serious, the reaction of the scared rats of the regime will seek  bloody  retribution  against those who participated.Im sure the protestors are aware of this  but not cognizant  of the mass executions and  purging of anyone associated withe Shah in the earlier rebellion. After all most of the protestors today, at the time of the rebellion against the Shah were not yet born.

It should be pointed out that the Kurdish uprising against the Islamic regime after it deposed the Shah was very bloody and thorough. They eliminated the leaders and intelligentsia of the Kurds ……and have no compunction about doing it again.

IRAN. August 27, 1979. After a short show-trial, 11 people charged as being “counterrevolutionary” were executed at Sanandaj Airport. Nine of the eleven men in this photo were Kurds. This photo won the Pulitzer Prize in 1980. The recipient was known as “anonymous” until 2006 when Jahangir RAZMI told the Wall Street Journal that he had taken it.

At some point the hope is that a military leader from the army will arrive on the scene and the protestors will coalesce   around him. Secondly the revolution against the shah turned deadly when the Homofars ( warrant officers ) of the Air Force deserted the Shah and broke into the armories obtaining weapons and handing them out to the mobs. First a dribble of soldiers deserted tom the mobs, then it became a stream, throwing away their weapons and running toward the crowds. Its there some way the protestors of d today can obtain weapons? Insofar as I know there have been no widespread defection of military personnel to the anti-regime protestors. Many of the tweets from Iran by the protestors have the tone of hope more than actual accomplishments.

But there can be little doubt that there is much concern among the ruling mullahs and their supporters. I can imagine that at the top in the air-conditioned offices of the top mullahs, IRGC, and Basij, many heated discussions are going on…to wit….from one side why are we procrastinating? And from the other…recommendations to toss out placebos to the protestors until they burn themselves out.

Do not forget the brutality of the Ayatollah regime. From a reporter there at the time of the  execution of four of the Shah’s people below.

“After that, some of the attendees went to the basement, which was also the school’s amphitheater. They watched the film of Khomeini’s return to Iran yet again. Then they set the dinner table and brought rice and chicken, and began to eat.

It was about 10.30 pm when they said they were going to take them upstairs. It was very cold and snowy that night. It was a strange situation; God sees that my body still trembles when I remember it. But I always ask myself, “If I didn’t write it, who else would have?”

After that, some of the attendees went to the basement, which was also the school’s amphitheater. They watched the film of Khomeini’s return to Iran yet again. Then they set the dinner table and brought rice and chicken, and began to eat.

It was about 10.30 pm when they said they were going to take them upstairs. It was very cold and snowy that night. It was a strange situation; God sees that my body still trembles when I remember it. But I always ask myself, “If I didn’t write it, who else would have?”

The situation of each of them was different. Naji broke down and cried. Nasiri was wounded in the neck because he had been hung up in the detention center, but the rope broke, and his voice was hard to hear, and his head and face were injured because of the fists that had hit him. He kept saying: “Ya Ali”.

Rahimi stood very strong and powerful. He said “Long live the Shah, long live Iran” several times and was shot. But Khosrodad was the bravest of all: he did not allow them to close his eyes. He said: “Because I am the senior here, I will order the shooting.” And he ordered them to shoot himself.

Some people were crying, each for his own reason. I cried too. “Stop it, it could be to your detriment,” the newspaper photographer told me. But I couldn’t believe it. Until then, I didn’t believe the Islamic Republic meant blood, murder, and crime. The Islam I knew from my father and others around me was not like this.

Their families weren’t even informed. They read the news of the death of their loved ones in the newspaper the next day, or else found out through some of members of the Etela’at team before it was published.

How many people were on the roof at the time of the execution? Are any of them prominent figures today?

About 20 people were on the roof. [Conservative politician and former head of Khomenei’s security detail] Mohsen Rafiqdoost supervised; Hamid Reza Naghashian was Mr. Khomeini’s bodyguard.

The bodies of the four initial victims of the Iranian blood purge being proudly shown in the morgue. This pic was in the newspaper which is how their families found out they were dead.

families of sTheeveral of the killed Mojahedin-e Khagh [MKO] and Fadaiyan-e Islam members were also present: tor example, the parents of Mehdi Rezaei, a member of the MKO who was executed before the revolution, and the mother of Masoumeh Shadmani, known as Kabiri: a member of the MKO who was arrested in 1974 and sentenced to life imprisonment. Several others who had been informed about it were also there.But Ayatollah Taleghani [a senior cleric and critic of the Shah who died later in 1979] refused to come despite being informed. Rezaei’s father was given a gun to shoot, but he cried and said “I cannot”. Several other family members also refused to shoot. Then four young revolutionaries took charge – but they had covered their faces. The weather was cold and snowy that night; with hats on, jackets and cloths over their faces, their faces were unrecognizable. An officer named Humafar shot at them and the bodies fell on the snow.The situation of each of them was different. Naji broke down and cried. Nasiri was wounded in the neck because he had been hung up in the detention center, but the rope broke, and his voice was hard to hear, and his head and face were injured because of the fists that had hit him. He kept saying: “Ya Ali”.Rahimi stood very strong and powerful. He said “Long live the Shah, long live Iran” several times and was shot. But Khosrodad was the bravest of all: he did not allow them to close his eyes. He said: “Because I am the senior here, I will order the shooting.” And he ordered them to shoot himself.Some people were crying, each for his own reason. I cried too. “Stop it, it could be to your detriment,” the newspaper photographer told me. But I couldn’t believe it. Until then, I didn’t believe the Islamic Republic meant blood, murder, and crime. The Islam I knew from my father and others around me was not like this.

Their families weren’t even informed. They read the news of the death of their loved ones in the newspaper the next day, or else found out through some of members of the Etela’at team before it was published.

The Shahs Security chief (of Savak) Nemaotolah Nassiri. The Shah put him in jail to placate the mobs but the mobs killed him anyway


How many people were on the roof at the time of the execution? Are any of them prominent figures today?

About 20 people were on the roof. [Conservative politician and former head of Khomenei’s security detail] Mohsen Rafiqdoost supervised; Hamid Reza Naghashian was Mr. Khomeini’s bodyguard.

The families of several of the killed Mojahedin-e Khagh [MKO] and Fadaiyan-e Islam members were also present: tor example, the parents of Mehdi Rezaei, a member of the MKO who was executed before the revolution, and the mother of Masoumeh Shadmani, known as Kabiri: a member of the MKO who was arrested in 1974 and sentenced to life imprisonment. Several others who had been informed about it were also there.

But Ayatollah Taleghani [a senior cleric and critic of the Shah who died later in 1979] refused to come despite being informed. Rezaei’s father was given a gun to shoot, but he cried and said “I cannot”. Several other family members also refused to shoot. Then four young revolutionaries took charge – but they had covered their faces. The weather was cold and snowy that night; with hats on, jackets and cloths over their faces, their faces were unrecognizable. An officer named Humafar shot at them and the bodies fell on the snow.


Lets hope the new rebellion succeeds!!

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Yom Kippur War 48 Years ago.

The Egyptian generals were amazed that the Israeli senior military and political leaders were caught flatfooted by the Egyptian/Syrian attack in 1973. If these Egyptian generals knew how many warning  from the highest levels and  the most impeccable sources that warned the Israelis they  would have been even more flabbergasted.To be sure the  Israeli troops were not the only ones surprised but most of the Egyptian army’s as well. In a survey of the 80000 Egyptians POWs in the Hands of the Israelis,  indicated only one knew the date of 3 Oct was the planned beginning of the war.Egyptian combat engineers carrying pontoon boats to the edge of the Suez, only realized it was not an exercise when ordered to put the boats in the water.See Chaim Herzog The War of Atonement, October 1973. BTW Despite being being one of the older books on the war it has the best  Military lessons learned of any the newer books.

Eli Zeira Chief of AMAN. Villain or scapegoat?

We now know that the Israelis had prior warning from the son-in-law of Abdul Nasser,  (Ashram Marwan)  and Gold Meir was warned by King Hussein of Jordan that war was imminent. Most damming was the fact  that Israeli commandos   had installed super sophisticated listening devices on all the Egyptian communication nodes.  Despite Egyptian super secret anti detection and deception measures there is no way they could have kept the Israelis unaware of the launch of the war. The problem was that they were considered so secret and vulnerable to detection that they were to be turned on only in case of a war imminent within hours or days .These taps were known as “special means.” The head of the AMAN ( Israeli Military Intelligence), Eli Zeira, was so convinced that there would be no war he refused to turn them on. There were many other sources and analyses from lower sources that indicated war was at the threshold. The other problems  was the top Israeli commanders though they had been turned on ( or they claimed so), and since no urgent  war warning was received they assumed there was nothing to worry about…at least not right away.

Ari Sharon. Israeli hero 1973 war. Villain of war in Lebanon. “War is hell” kind of guy. Like Patton probably not a sweet guy to work for but he got the work done. He had very little good things to say about his fellow generals, many were defeatist and failed to command.
His funeral. We could use a few Sharons in the US army. He would have probably fired a good number of the current US army leadership

So why were all these sources the  ignored? Two main reasons. Hubris and the ” e g conception.” The conception ran as follows. The Egyptians cannot start a war until they have air power parity …and they were a long way from that, secondly the Syrians would not go to war unless Egypt did so. The hubris centered around the conviction deeply embedded in the Israeli psyche that the Arabs were hopeless at war and were no match from the IDF.

Egyptian POWs in 67 war. The Hubris of the Egyptian leadership and their total incompetence made a not- so -great Israeli army look great.

A quote from Ariel Sharon (  An Autobiography:Warrior. by Ariel Sharon and David Charnoff tells the tale quite well. “I stood on the dunes there, the scene unfolding in front of me. As tanks and APCs withdrew past the observation  post,I stopped some of them to talk to the officers and saw something strange on their faces– not fear but bewilderment. Suddenly something was happening to them that had never happened before. These soldiers had been brought up on victories–not easy victories maybe, but  nevertheless victories . It was a generation that never lost. Now they were in a state of shock. How could it be that the Egyptians were crossing the canal right in our faces? How was it that they were moving forward and we were defeated.?”

General Gonen’s ( southern Front commander) had the typical Israeli view of the Egyptians, i.e.  he failed to properly assess the situation  but relied on his “intuition” based his earlier experience leading him  to view the Egyptians with “deep contempt.”

Israeli POWs in 73. Israeli soldiers were mostly from the “strongpoints” of the Bar-Lev line, along the Suez Canal. They were  overwhelmed by the massive Egyptian offensive and mostly abandoned by the unready Israeli forces.

Unfortunately the villain or scapegoat ( depending on who you read) was Eli Ze’eri head of military intelligence known as AMAN. He inherited the “concept” but then embraced it with  all consuming faith. No evidence to the contrary was admitted. He often referred to contrary reports as “bull shit,”He refused to turn on the “special means”  listening devices, even when the breathe of war was becoming a storm. Ze’eri was a capable combat commander  and had little time for the endless debates on  social theory or intelligence assessments. He was an action man. He was also apparently very persuasive  and demanding, and no one, not even Gold Meier questioned his opinions.Backing him up were two other intelligence officers, the Egypt  AMAN desk officer, Col.  Yona Bandman and the head of the research section BG Arye Shalev. Asked his assessment  of the Egyptian Armed Forces Shalev opined that they would “disintegrate”  in battle. Of course after the Agranat Commission hearing on the 73 war, all three of the above were fired. One can say at least the Israelis  did the right thing unlike  the Americans who allow debacles like the  Vietnam, Afghan, and Iraqi wars  pass into history without any culpability laid on the the those  most responsible. Of course even the Agranat commission  went limp on Moshe Dayan who was absent during most of the war, having totally fallen apart, as did a number of other Israeli  generals. He should have been named as one of the reasons for the “near thing” in the result of the war.

In August 1966  Moshe Dayan left  to Far East to be close to the Vietnam War. To study the secrets of the modern war, he joined the US troops, participating in ambushes in jungles of South Vietam. Dayan published his war impressions in many world wide and Israeli magazines. Unfortunately  what he learned was not useful in 73

All this leads to my thesis that  next to total destruction of an army the worse thing that can happen is an easy conquest….such as the Six Day war in 1967.  It was the albatross around the Israelis neck. All the wrong lessons are learned and become  imbedded. The Israelis, based everything on the tank and the airplane ,and forgotten was artillery and Air Defense,  and most importantly well trained and well equipped infantrymen. See Herzog.

Israeli soldiers celebrate after the 67 war. Israeli women in the forefront of combat is mostly mythology. But it made for good copy in the US.

The best account of the day today war, militarily and politically, is The Yom Kippur War: The Epic Encounter that Changed the Middle East,  by Abraham Rabinovich, although I disagree with some of the conclusions. I’m not convinced that it “transformed the Middle East.” But it was a very good thing for the Israeli society ( except  for those who lost lives or limbs). Why?

Because there are  no more articles like after the 6 Day War , depicting Israelis  as “super Jews,” and other supercilious nonsense. Their army  lacked discipline, and combat training. Chasing Palestinian terrorists around the West Bank in “whack a mole,” operations was not sufficient to keep the combat edge among the troops -just as the same type American operations in Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq has severely undermined the combat readiness of our army.  The Israelis know they are mere mortals like the rest of us and have no unique qualities that allow them to shortchange military discipline, training., and most importantly realistic assessments of their enemy.

Typical Arab depiction of Jews. When I was in the Egyptian cantonments in 81-82, these posters were everywhere. I think they are a little more media conscious now but has the thinking changed? somehow I doubt it. That’s why I don’t think the Middle East has “transformed.”



It should also be pointed out that if societies were without a certain hubris there would be a lot less wars. No quick, technic, bloodless wars as we tend to believe now. Has Putin Learned?  The Arabs in 48 and 67 went to war imbued with the  belief,  that as Ibn Khaldun  had written, the Jews were a servile race,  and generations of Arab propaganda has embedded the belief that Jews were unable to stand against the Arab  warriors. Unfortunately ( for the Arabs and Muslims in general) many still think that way.








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What is happening in Iran?

Bottom Line .We do not know. A couple of days ago I wrote that, despite my hopes, the new uprising will faiIl. gave several reasons, among which one particularly critical one is that the new revolutionaries do not have a single unifying leader. The new revolutionaries are from many disparate groups, including Baluchis in the eastern part of Iran, Arabs of Khuzistan and Persians in the cities across Iran. It is not just about   the wearing a hijab but the overall suffocation of the Iranian people under draconian, non sensical “religious”: rules…….. mostly made up in the inner sanctums of the ruling ayatollahs and  their   politicized military backers. Runaway inflation, pervasive  corruption as the mullahs siphon off the public monies into their pockets, the IRGC and Basij thugs controlling the social life of the people…all have contributed to the “new revolution.”

Grand Ayatollah Khamenei inspecting Military cadet graduation at Tehran. Will they fire on their own people? The Biden intel community is betting they will.

Will it succeed? I an still skeptical but hopeful I was wrong. One item which has boosted my optimism that it might just succeed is that Biden’s Intelligence folks think it will fail. Anytime  our CIA  makes a prediction  there is good reason to think the opposite. I was on the Intelligence board for infamous National Intelligence Estimate  of 1978 in which the opening lines were “Iran is likely to remain stable under the Shah’s leadership over the next several years … The prospects are good that Iran will have relatively clear sailing until at least the mid-1980s.”   I was the army intel representative and had little to do with it as the CIA big boys run those shows. Anyway less than a year later, the Shah was out.

Our intel in Iran then was very  poor for a number of reasons, and there are many books out to describe the debacle,  but the point is that our intel now is even worse.  I spent enough time around the intel community to be able to say we have no idea how the Iranian army will react. In the shah’s time the military leaders…with a few heroic exceptions…. were a fearful, incompetent bunch. The soldiers refused to fire on the crowds. Will they do so now? The vital question  is the SS of the Iranian regime…the IRGC. Will they kill their own people? The regular army has always been suspect in the eyes of the Iranian regime. And how about the Basij…the Brown Shirts of the Iranian regime. Will they stand firm.? All questions but no answers yet.

I am reading lots of tweets with google translations from Iranian sources saying that the regime is under water, officials are moving their families to Beirut and  Qatar, the oil  workers are going on strike. the Iranians are bringing in Hezbollah thugs from Lebanon to fight the protestors, Army officers are making anti-regime noises…etc Believable ? yes but….!! Maybe too good to be true.

Another question! Why so little mainstream media attention? My educated guess is that the  the Obama/Biden regime, which has given Iran the “most favored nation” attention supplicating them to sign a worthless Nuc deal.. there by releasing plane loads of cash and other goodies for the regime, is embarrassed…… and the state -run media has circled the wagons to protect them.  Am I Mua’mara (conspiracy) minded.? A few years ago I would have said yes…. but in these days of  US government crack down on   John Q. Citizen  dissent to Obama/Biden manifestos , these things are not only possible but probable.





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The New Iranian “Revolution.” Chances of Success?

the good old days in Iran. The Shah was an authoritarian, pretentious, egocentric  ruler but compared to the regime today he was a decent human being.

To understand this m new development in Iran one must look back to the 1978-79 revolution that ousted the Shah. Like this new movement in Iran it had certain similarities. In late 1977, intellectual, elite  sectors of the Iran populations began criticizing the shah, including having a poetry festival which was used to denounce the regime of the Shah. The Shah did not crack down. Soon the religious clerics of Iran took up the banner of revolt, following the sermons of Ayatollah Khomeini, at that time in Iraq since 1963 when he was exiled by the Shah for his fiery Anti- Shah sermons. The Iranian pilgrims to Najaf Iraq brought back cassettes and pamphlets of Khomeini’s speeches urging revolution.  Saddam’s regime, happy to get rid of a  troublesome Shi’a cleric, agreed to  send Khomeini  away.The Shah thought that if he could get the Ayatollah sent away to Europe his ability to communicate with is followers would atrophy.  Khomeini was sent to Paris. Unfortunately the Shah’s strategy failed .Just the reverse happened. Because of the much better array of communication capabilities available in France, the cassettes of the Ayatollah  were heard everywhere, from the mosques to the tops of apartment buildings with loud speakers.

Iranian soldiers march during a military parade as they mark the country’s annual army day in Tehran, on April 18, 2019. – Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani called on Middle East states on April 18 to “drive back Zionism”, in an Army Day tirade against the Islamic republic’s archfoe Israel. Speaking flanked by top general as troops paraded in a show of might, Rouhani also sought to reassure the region that the weaponry on display was for defensive purposes and not a threat. (Photo by – / AFP) (Photo credit should read -/AFP via Getty Images)

Meanwhile the rabble emerging from the shanty towns  of impoverished peasants  of the major cities began challenging the Iranian security force and bloody encounters followed, especially the Jaleh square “massacre” of September 8, 1978.  The was  followed by an endless cycle  of the traditional Shi’a 40 days of mourning culminated by another protest on the fortieth day….always ending  in gunfire and more martyrs.

At this point The US president Jimmy Carter got nervous about the situation in Iran, in which the US had about 20000 advisors, technicians and hangers on  so he  and sent General Huyser to Iran to investigate the staying power of the military. He found that the Iranian military were mostly jelly-like  creatures in bemedaled uniforms. They had  no initiative, were fearful, and enjoyed no respect from their own officers. The officers, like most Middle Eastern countries ,had no contact with their soldiers. The soldiers drawn from the poor folk of Iran, were attracted to the Islamic messages of the Khomeini supporters, and were led by more educated often marxist sympathizers of the  upper class , western educated elitists rebelling  against the Shah.

When called upon to fire on their own people the soldiers often  refused  and later on they deserted with their weapons  and join the rebels. This spelled the end of the Shah. The beginning of the end was when the warrant officers of the Air Force (homofars ) broke into arms rooms and handed  out weapons to the mobs.

On 19 Jan, 1979, The Shah departed never to return and a succession of governments took place, each being displaced by the Khomeini forces led by the Ayatollah who retuned on 1 Feb 1979, until the Ayatollah instituted the Velayet-e- faqih which basically gave him totalitarian powers and in effect he became the visible form of the Shi’a “hidden Imam” who was to led the world to salvation and the utopia. His rule was to be unquestioned

Khomeini himself, as depicted by some of his  former followers, turned off by his murderous despotic character, described him as a duplicitous, lying, corrupt individual, drunk by the prospect of power. His former follower, who was instructed by Khomeini, Ayatollah Jallal Ganjei  described his former mentor this way  in the book The Iran Threat by Alireza Jafarzadeh.

Mr Sunshine

It is noteworthy that the first revolts against the Khomeini rule was on 8 March 1979 when women protested against the mandatory wearing of the  Hijab.  see

“Ironically, in the prelude to the revolution, the chador became a garment of choice for secular women who protested the Shah’s rule. Khomeini made the hijab mandatory and the chador as “the best hijab.” When Iranian women protested against the new mandate, they were brutally dispersed, and some were arrested. In 1983, Majlis decided that unveiled women would be punished with 74 lashes; as of 1995, they could be imprisoned for up to 60 days.”

Women protest against mandatory wearing of Hijab march 1978

The revolution against the Shah was a 9 -month affair, beginning with very  small protests gradually enlarging to a national revolt.

Unfortunately I do not see this happening now in Iran as much as I would like to see it succeed. Iran, and China are the two greatest threats to the stability of the Western world and the destruction of the Clerical totalitarian state in Iran should be a prime objective of the US government…unlikely as it is to be. Why Pessimistic?

1. This Hijab revolt has no leader, no secular or moderate cleric with the charisma and  fortunate circumstances that availed  Khomeini.

2. The protestors are the elite and often more effete of the Iranian upper and middle classes. They cannot stand up to the shanty town thugs of the Basij and IRGC.  The Tudeh ( Communists) fought against the Khomeini  mobs, tough people from the slums and were defeated.Many  Western analysts believed that with the exit of the Shah the Communists would take over.

3. The shah was sick with raging cancer. He was physically and spiritually unable to command  his forces in 1978 and his generals and top officials, with very few exceptions were spineless, corrupt individuals who simply did as they were told…and others such as the Shah’s lifelong friend General Hossien Fardust were cowardly traitors.  See his cringing memoirs , The Rise and Fall of the Pavlavi Dynasty by Ali Akbar Darieni. The Basij and IRGC are deeply embedded in the society of Iran and have become rich under the Mullah rule. The senior clerics of Iran have enriched themselves with religious endowments and government largesse. They have much to lose in a revolution. They will come down hard on the rebellious women.

4. The West is  currently saddled with weak leadership and no support other than useless words are to be expected. The women and their supporters of Iran are on their own.

Protest in Iran 1978

Some of the  books I think are good to read for the non academic look at the Iran revolution of 1978

Mission to Iran by the Ambassador to Iran during the end of the Shah’s reign  William Sullivan.

Faces In a Mirror by Ashram Pahlavi, The sister of the Shah who was accused of every possible depravity known to man by the Islamist regime, probably 90% baseless, but she was tough  and  pushed the always hesitant Shah to bite the bullet but he did not.

Mission to Tehran by General  Robert “Dutch” Huyser.  He was was very pessimistic of the ability of the Iranian generals to save the Shah…in fact President Carter, the American and British ambassadors were not giving the shah the support he needed to persevere.

An Endearing  Love; My life withe Shah by Farah Pahlavi. The last queen of the Shah, preceded by the sister of King Farouk, who hated Iran,  Soraya, a Baktiari beauty  who was unable to have a child.  A rather sentimental and sometimes touching memoir who has tried to resurrect her husbands memory currently depicted as a  despicable tyrant framed by the “black and the Red” media…the leftist and Islamist.

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Middle Eastern Russian Linked Terrorism

Middle Eastern Russian Linked Terrorism

Wadie Haddad Russian point man for terrorism

The depth of Russian immersion into the La Brea tarpits of Middle Eastern fanaticism and polarization is graphically illustrated by the level of Soviet/Russian involvement in terrorist activities in the Middle East. As the flip side of Russian counterinsurgency, which the Russians always linked with anti-terrorism, it should be of little surprise to note that the Russians were up to their necks in subsidizing, training, and organizing terror groups. Despite this the CIA in 1981 rendered a judgement that the Russians did not support terrorism.  This facile judgement was based on the theory that while the Russians trained and financed them, they eschewed acts of terrorism against civilians.

Read Ray S Cline and Yonah Alexander  Terrorism: the Soviet Connection.

Cristopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin  ( The Sword and the Shield)found immense amount of materiel linking the Russian KGB to PLO terrorism, particularly  the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, (PFLP), the Popular Democratic Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, (PDFLP), the Abu Nidal Organization (ANO) and the Black September Organization (BSO). Much of this was done through the good offices of Wadi Haddad,the chief of operations of the PFLP and the primary link between the KGB. who had links to the various terror organizations of the Middle East. Those who have closely examined the Russian link to terrorism found that the Russians were fully aware of the operations targeting civilians.  The Russians also cultivated Yasir Arafat, Chairman of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) but apparently the Russians considered him as a poseur and not useful to the Russian objectives.

Vatsili Mitrokhin A KGB Archivist and major. Defected to UK in 1992.


In consonance with the normal state of internecine warfare, murderous rivalries, and general chaos, which characterizes much of the Middle East, the terrorist groups and individuals cultivated by the Russians warred on each other and the Russians were unable to stay aloof. Much of the history of Putin’s rise to power and his decision to invade Chechnya was based on the alleged terrorist acts of the Islamist Chechens, despite the opinion of many observers who concluded that Putin used these atrocities as false flag operations to create fervor for another war in Chechnya.

The Russian prepossession with terrorism, which in the final analysis, was of little value to the Russians, can only be seen as one more piece of evidence illuminating the Middle Eastern rot the Russians inflicted upon themselves.

Anyone who thinks that with the transformation of the KGB to the FSB (Federal Security Service)  Russia has dropped its terrorist activities is a fool. But as we know the fools are numerous , especially in Western intelligence agencies. As Anatoly Golitsyn in his book New Lies for Old  details the close ties between the Russian KGB and the Eurocommunists.

If the FBI was not so busy looking for the unicorn “White Supremists”  they would likely  find ties between the Russian GU( Main Intelligence Agency) aka GRU and the marxist “woke” movement and  in Black Lives Matter and associated organizations with  marxist/leninist ideologies. These connections are   very diffuse and with lots of cover doors that conceal and deceive of course; For example the World Council of Churches (WCC) has been a communist front organization for many years. A perfect example is the East German infiltration ( The Stasi) of the German churches, especially the Lutheran, as laid out so expertly by Elizabeth Braw in her book God’s Spies.

The Islamist connection with Communism has been pointed  out by many. The outmoded idea that Marxism and Islamism are incompatible has been proven totally erroneous…dangerously so, but still useful  idiots  in the scholarly world still claim it is so. They, Islamism and Communism,  are both totalitarian ideologies, advocating achieving power by violence.  The “religious” facade of Islamism is as fictitious as the “class struggle” of the Leninists. Power is the objective  of both movements and as  Winston Churchill correctly pointed out over a hundred years ago…Socialism  simply presages the  imposition of Communism.q

How many Muslim  clerics are in the pay of the Russian GRU…. Financed through cut out means to conceal their sources? One can surmise that the Iranian clerical(  the basis of their regime) love affair with the Russian despots and oligarchs are part of this picture.

Final thought: ISIS and al Qaeda are state run terror organizations. The regimes that employs them may vary  from time to time but one can safely conclude they are not Gofundme  financed.



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The 9/11 Report. Dereliction of Duty by The United States Command Authorities

MEMRI the premier American counter-terrorism organization  published this summary of Al Qaeda boasting on the various servers that carry their exhortations for their followers and sympathizers …As below

Attacks As An Extension Of The Battle Of Badr

The message, which has a similar style to those prepared by slain Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri, who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Kabul on July 31, starts by underlining the significance of the Battle of Badr, saying that despite the long record of victories in Islamic history, Badr has special importance due to the scarce resources of the Muslim fighters at that time, who were mostly equipped with their faith and courage.

After a lengthy description of the Battle of Badr, the message addresses the significance of 9/11, stressing that it has a similar impact on the global course of events.

Citing American author Paul Kennedy, who allegedly wrote that 9/11 was a turning point in shaping the events of the 21st century, the message asserted that “America will never return to what it used to be before the collapse of its biggest icons: the Pentagon, the headquarters of the U.S Department of Defense – the greatest power in the human history, and the World Trade Center, a skyscraper that represents its economic hegemony, and the frightening financial dominance of American capitalism.”


The ‘Timeless’ 9/11 Attacks Were Unexpected

The message argues that the importance of 9/11 attacks lay in the fact that they were totally unexpected. “The attacks hit America in a place that it had never considered or expected.” Recalling the day of the attacks, the message highlights the leadership of slain Al-Qaeda leader, Osama Bin Laden, saying that the American press reported on the day of the attack that “a Muslim called Osama Bin Laden, in the farthest corners of the earth and in its forests, threw four spears [i.e., airplanes] from Kandahar to Washington and New York, and three of these spears hit America’s military and economic hearts.”

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It further boasted that 9/11 killed more people than those killed in Pearl Harbor attack. Glorifying the impact of the attacks, the message describes them as “timeless Islamic conquest that the whole world watched on live broadcast,” adding that “the world has not seen or heard like them before, militarily or strategically.”

9/11 Attacks Ignited Strife Among The Crusaders

Elaborating on the impact of 9/11, the message argues that it ignited an internal conflict among the “Crusaders,” saying that both Western Europe with its Catholic majority along with Eastern Europe and its Orthodox majority, tried to exploit the attacks “to take down Protestant America” from the leadership of the world.

The message further boasted that 9/11 dealt a heavy blow to the American intelligence community, saying that it cast doubts among the American people and the world about the efficiency of their intelligence services.

“What made the Americans and others wonder: What if this attack was launched by a superpower or even terrorists who possess lethal weapons such as nuclear or bacterial weapons!”Discussing the economic impact of the attacks, the message underlined that targeting the World Trade Center “paralyzed the global and American economic system.”

My brief of Islamism is at

In 2011 there was a blue ribbon congressional panel to review the progress in implementing the major recommendations of the original 9/11  Commission Report. They  Reviewed 9  major areas. But I will confine this blog to just one. The Unity of Command Effort. Anytime there is a way to create enlarge an already unwieldy  bureaucracy one can expect the American government to plunge ahead and establish new one, usually simply  complicating the security environment and creating another wiring diagram of command structure that no one understands. Thus the  new Department  Homeland Security Agency was quickly put together creating thousands of jobs,  now with a workforce of 230,000 people and a budget of  over $85 billion, combining 22 agencies  ostensibly meeting the goals of the 9/11 Report.  Like many government agencies, this has proved to be a useless entity and actually a  dangerous organization with ill-defined powers and responsibilities.

The left hand still does not know what the right hand is doing in American anti-terrorism. In fact, without adding anything to the counter-terrorism effort,  it has gotten completely off track in  pursuing perceived political enemies of the administration in a blatant attempt to intimidate or silence sections of the population considered unreceptive to the programs of the current regime in office. There is no talk of Islamist terrorism, because it does not fit into the political correct narrative  which , excludes any  discussion of any religion except “Christian white supremists.”  These  are indeed the unicorns of this era.If there is a threat from this “white supremists” where is the evidence, who is /are the leaders, where are they located? and most all why are the politicians not asking the questions?

Meanwhile it should be understood that Al Qaeda, like the ISIS are whores. They kill for pay and are largely supported by States interested in attacking their enemies.  Both Iraq and especially Iran have had, and Iran still does, strong connections to the Al Qaeda organization. see Iran 911 case of 23 Dec 2011 at

This, of course is usually kept under cover by a government that pursues a totally useless nuclear agreement with the premier terrorist state- Iran. The Islamist enticements are used to bring in the adventurers, the  misfits,  the naive, and the stupid and a few true believers. At the top the leadership are cunning exploiters of weak human nature and skillful manipulators  of psychology and symbology. Unfortunately the Qur’an provides ample narrative to support the violence they revel in. In Christianity the New Testament modified the “blood and guts” of the Old Testament but nothing exists in Islam to re-interpret the “sword verses”. Those few Muslim  intellectuals who try to emphasize the pen verses Islam are drowned out by the well, financed militants , who own the social media,  control the many of the mosques, and sometimes become chameleons, like the Muslim Brotherhood  posing with clueless Western politicians in three piece suits—and ironically are often supported by Western useful idiots in the pseudo -intellectual circles who  always attach themselves to any movement antithetical to the common people..the “deplorables. ”

This can be interpreted any number of ways and explained in a historical context that has little to do with the present world but the Islamists choose to interpret it in the way that suits them and their voices are above the others.

Make no mistake….. Islamist terror is the major terrorist threat to this nation. With unvetted people pouring across the borders , unhindered, unchecked, and thousands of Afghans who fled Kabul arriving in the US simply because they happened to be at the right place at the right time….the airport….our weak intelligence  systems have completely lost track of what is going on regarding foreign terrorist circles  working inside this country.

Of course some will point to the fact that there have been no 9/11’s since 2001 but the potential grows astronomically as our apathy and incompetent  leadership averts their eyes to pursue more lucrative political and financial paths.

Below is a good article to read separating islam from the ideology of Islamism

Islam and Islamism By Salim Mansur. Associate professor of Political Science at Western University at Ontario, Canada.


an excerpt below.

“Islam, a religion, cannot be turned into a handmaiden of politics; when this occurs, Islam is turned into Islamism. Its defining characteristic is its intolerance of others, including Muslims, and glorification of violence against all who disagree. The conflict inside the Muslim world might be characterized as one between tyranny and freedom, even if that tyranny is packaged in God’s name. The strategically right thing to do is provide moral and material assistance to Muslims struggling against Islamists.”

Unfortunately we -our leadership- is not doing that. We allow our freedoms and tolerance to be abused by our enemies.

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Is an Entity called Iraq Viable?

For many years I paid little attention to the news from Iraq. Most of the news was filtered through ideological or political  viewpoints and was simply a dreary day to day recitation of the corruption and abuse of power that has been Iraq’s story since the time of the Ottoman occupation. Actually the glory  days of Iraq ended withe sack of Baghdad by the Mongols in  1258.

But the last few days as big trouble seem  to be brewing in Baghdad I got interested again. As Bernard Lewis wrote, the  Ottoman Turks were not builders. They simply ruled, mostly by force, but generally in the acceptance of the Sunni ruling class, which until the overthrow of Saddam Hussein,  had ruled Iraq, including the period of British occupation and creation  of the modern state of Iraq. But the recent riots in Iraq did…. to a certain extent…. revive my interest in Iraq. Overall nothing much has changed is a quagmire  of sectarian ideological, religious and political hatreds. It is corrupt to the core with only the Iranians evidencing any interest in becoming involved. Are they stupid or know something we do not? Well they are smarter than our leaders and  much bolder, but to what end I wonder?

Iranian God father Ali Khamenei

مجموعه سیمای رهبری معظم انقلاب اسلامی

The Shia of Iraq, long mostly ignored by Middle East historians and politicians have suddenly become a hot historical Middle East topic. Prior and even after the American liberation/occupation of Iraq most of the history and political commentary in the West favored the Sunni. From the time of Gertrude Bell’s writings  till now the Shi’a were depicted as a mysterious , dark, anarchic sect.  Many of the  Shi’a,  as Kanan Makiya ( Republic of Fear)  wrote,  were  originally  Sunni  who  settled into farming in the 19th century and converted to Shi’ism.  Their religious leaders were reactionary, issuing Fatwa’s condemning any Shi’a  participation in the newly emerging Iraqi government. As Makiya writes, these clerics lost influence among the Shi’a fellah because of their total absorption in religious piety and symbolism, while their Shi’a followers  suffered prolonged misgovernment and deprivation. Many began to follow the communist party and their promises of a better life.    Abd  al Karim Qassim, when he overthrew the Monarchy of the Feisel family in 1958, was able to take control of Iraq largely through assistance of the large communist party. Makiya says this is proof that the Shi’a sect  is not absorbed in the sectarian demands of Shi’ism but follow political and ideological currents like most others in Iraq.

President Barack Obama shakes hands with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki following their meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington 2013 |  Muqtada’s mortal enemy


At ht same time, the minorities in Iraq, Christians, Yezidis, Kurds, etc. basically have done  whatever is necessary to survive.  The Christians were largely wary but content with Saddam…as opposed to an Islamist regime, and  being without means to gain power they were generally left to their own devices by Saddam.

In his article (Is Iraq Viable) from  the Crown Center for Middle East Studies Makiya reviewed the works of two authorities on recent Iraq history, Ali A Alawi and Hazem Sagie. Both well-respected as analytical   historians on Iraq.  Both basically  agree there is no future  for a nation called Iraq. They say the dormant ethnic and tribal hatreds format exploded after the American liberation/occupation, but that they have been there for centuries waiting for a spark. Kanan Makiya does not agree. He writes  that the  Iraqi Story is not over….but I have doubts.

There are many of course who say it was only the American invasion that loosed this maelstrom of sectarian violence. Typical is one writer, an acquaintance,   who spent a lot of time with Sunni insurgents in Iraq. I bought two of his books… actually a waste. He espoused  the typical marxist  viewpoint that all evils are largely American-made. He did rightly  say, however, that the liberal academic mantra that the Islamists are “bad Muslims” was  stupid. Actually these islamists believed  (as they do today)they were the only good Muslims. As long as Western academics  and government officials go on spouting nonsense about Islamic terrorists being “bad Muslims” we will never identify the enemy…at least one of our enemies…we have many “experts”now!

Anyway this fellow  wrote...”The Bush administration based its strategy in Iraq on the mistaken notion that, under Saddam, the Sunni minority ruled the Shiite majority. In fact, Iraq had no history of serious sectarian violence or civil war between the two groups until the Americans invaded. Most Iraqis viewed themselves as Iraqis first, with their religious sects having only personal importance. Intermarriage was widespread, and many Iraqi tribes included both Sunnis and Shiites. Under Saddam, both the ruling Baath Party and the Iraqi army were majority Shiite.”

To this my learned Iraqi friend , a Shia , wrote

“This is an ideal image that exist only in Hollywood production. As an Iraqi Shiite who lived in Iraq under Saddam for more than 30 years I never felt equal to my Sunni counterparts. And I never  felt comfortable revealing my sect or practicing my rituals – as simple as giving away a dish of rice to my Sunni neighbors. I always felt  I am being treated as a less than a citizen. One example when I applied for a job in the government as a translator. I was the only one out for four approved applicants who was summoned to the intelligence headquarters in Baghdad because my full name indicated that I’m a Shiite. The other applicants were all Sunnis. The intelligence officer asked me all kind of questions about my family affiliations. He finally let me go because he knew my family history was clear and had no holes. As for army, yes it true the majority of soldiers and officers were Shiites but they won’t be promoted to high ranks except in few cases.For examples, my uncle, mom’s brother, was first class Shiite officer (graduated from Sandhurst)  but he was marginalized and was denied the promotion for two years while his Sunni counterparts were promoted to generals. When he finally was promoted to a general, he was forced to retire. Dad in his position of the Mayor Deputy was denied many privileges given to his Sunni  counterparts because- only because he was a Shiite. “

Actually the Shi’a did not revolt sooner– not because they felt comfortable under Sunni  rule– but basically because they were astute enough to know that they would be slaughtered by the Iraqi army- as were the  Christian Assyrians in the Simele massacre of 1933. The general, Bakr  Sidki who led the slaughter was acclaimed  a national hero. Nuri Said once answered  a Western writer why he did not let the young King Feisel II more latitude in running the country, he replied “how could I let him loose among these barbarians”?

King Feisel II of Iraq. Murdered by General Qassim’s thugs along with his entire family and servants 1958.  He was 22. He was known as a very promising young man

The gruesome barbaric murder of the king and his entire well as  the PM Nuri Said …was well told by Gerald de Gaury in his book, Three Kings in Baghdad.  The overall perpetrator of the murders, General Qassim met a similar end in a similar way.

The end of Qassim and two of his lieutenants. In the Ministry of defense 1963


So this brings us to Muqtada Al Sadr. his great-grandfather is  Ismael al Sad. Mohammed Sadeq al-Sadr, Muqtada al-Sadr’s father, was a respected figure throughout the Shi’a Islamic world. He was murdered, along with two of his sons,  by  Saddam . Muqtada’s  father in law was executed by the Iraqi authorities in 1980. Muqtada is a cousin of the  respected Muse al Sadr, the Iranian-Lebanese founder of the popular Amal Movement.

His Happiness, Muqtada al Sadr. Married but no children

Most  the books written  about Iraq some years ago cast him as the  heavy ( villain) but today in much of the Western Press he is cast as the last great hope for Iraq.  Just like Saddam was pictured before 199,  he is seen as a bad guy but one we (the West )could deal with. In the past century we have read this many times….Hitler , Stalin,  Saddam, Assad,  Khamenei….. all  the diplomats  said and still say are/were  “people we can deal with.”  An American colonel who has had four  tours of duty in Iraq, wrote that Muqtada  was just that…the man who can save Iraq. But as a functioning nation there isn’t much about Iraq to be saved. If Iraq can be salvaged, Muqtada is not the man to do it. Outside  his fervent following, mostly among urban impoverished Shi’a, he has little support, especially outside Arab and Islamic support. Muqtada is a chameleon. A man who sees himself as a champion of the people. He  changes colors to move with the prevailing winds.
Muqtada has been and out of the Iranian tent so many times it is difficult to know whether  he is in or out. As of yesterday he seemed to be out…. but  never place Muqtada in anybody’s box.

An excellent article from New Lines magazine lays it out  better than anything I’ve read for a long time. One of the main points I get from this article is that  the Shi’a mainstream – Iraqi and Iranian- has always been an enemy of the sadrists. The recent rebuke from his mentor al Ayatollah Kazem Hairi,  a cleric in the Iranian regime pocket, is just one of many examples.  See

one excerpt from the article below:

Sadr has huge grassroots support — millions of people who are culturally, religiously, territorially and politically Sadrists, even though they may not be fervent Muqtada followers. This understanding of the wider Sadrist population and the distinction from the politically active Sadrist trend is clear to him but confusing to others. The success of the Sadrists in the October 2021 elections gave credence to his view that he is the political king of the Shiites in Iraq. At every turn Sadr feels he has been betrayed and pressured by allies, leaving him out on his own. When his father-in-law was killed in 1980, the Hawza in Najaf, where  Shiite Muslim scholars are educated, did nothing to help his family and continued classes as if nothing happened. When the 1991 intifada against Saddam’s regime was beginning to be crushed, Iran and the U.S. did not intervene to save it or the tens of thousands who were buried in mass graves.”

In summary Ali Alawi wrote

Presiding over Iraq as the Coalition forces arrived Alawi wrote was “a fearful, heavily armed minority”—that is, the Sunnis—whose decaying institutions and ruling ideology masked the real dangers of “divisiveness, vengefulness, deeply held grievances and bottled-up ethnic and sectarian passions” lurking underneath Iraqi Arab society.”

To some extent, as is the way of the world, the oppressed have become the oppressors, and are now at each others throats.





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