Good News

Yesterday Fox News reported the following:

The caliphate has crumbled, and the final offensive is over. While the official announcement hasn’t yet been made – Fox News has been told that this village, the last ISIS stronghold, is liberated.

It’s the first time since we’ve been here in Syria for five days that the bombs have stopped dropping and the gunfire has disappeared. We have witnessed the end of the caliphate – the brutal empire that once ruled over 8 million people – is gone.

Troops here are now bringing down the black flags of ISIS. The flags no longer fly over the town, instilling fear.

…None of the main surviving ISIS leaders have been caught inside Baghouz. Instead, they left their men to fight alone. It’s thought they prepared ahead for the insurgency.

The scale of the devastation here is incredible. And everyone acknowledges that without U.S. support, it would have taken far longer.

For four-and-a-half years, ISIS held this territory, ruling over it with an iron fist. It was the terrorist group’s heartland – and they were so dug in that the only way to push them back was to flatten whole villages. The devastation here goes on for miles – and craters like this are a reminder of the critical role played by U.S. airpower. Military jets still fly overhead.

SDF fighters are all so grateful to the U.S., not just for their help in the battle, but now for its decision to leave troops here when it’s done. Reports now suggest the figure may be around 1,000 staying.

We need to leave enough of a force to prevent ISIS from reassembling. As the article stated, the leaders fled and left the lower ranking members to fight. That means the leaders are still somewhere, possibly plotting how to take power again. I don’t want to fight the battles for all of the people in the Middle East, but if our assistance means that the bad guys will lose power,  I think we need to be ready to assist.

Attempting To Rebuild The Caliphate

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk created the Republic of Turkey in 1923. His goal was to set up a secular state. Turkey was the first Moslem nation to become a Republic. It has served since the early 1920s as a model for Moslem and non-Moslem nations in the emerging world. Unfortunately its Moslem neighbors have not followed the example set by Attaturk, and current Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has successfully undone what Attaturk began.

Time Magazine posted an article today about Turkey’s most recent election.

The article reports:

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has cemented himself as the strongman of Turkey, after his coalition won presidential and parliamentary elections that will extend his powers and possibly his rule for as long as a decade.

Erdogan’s coalition gained around 53% of the vote with close to 90% turnout, according to the state broadcaster, meaning he will extend his 15-year rule for at least another five – with the potential to control Turkey until 2028.

“Turkey has given a lesson in democracy to the whole of the world,” he claimed in his speech. Elsewhere, his opponents cried foul with accusations of an unjust race, saying Erdogan’s party had the unfair backing of the state and the opposition was cowed by emergency laws.

The election has crucial implications for regional security, refugee flows, and world democracy — but also for Turkey itself, at the crossroads between Europe, Russia and the Middle East.

The article explains what will be the result of this election:

Last year, Erdogan held and narrowly won a referendum on amending Turkey’s constitution. The changes, which come into effect following this election, include a shift away from a parliamentary system to an executive presidency.

Erdogan will gain the power to issue decrees, appoint public officials including ministers and judges, decide the budget and control the military and the police. By contrast the power of parliament will be diminished and the role of prime minister abolished.

The dream of Attaturk has died with the last election in Turkey. This is another example of the incompatibility of Islam with freedom and democracy. Those who love freedom need to realize that radical Islam is a political system–not a religion. The dream of Erdogan is to reestablish the Caliphate that was the Ottoman Empire with Turkey leading the way. That is not a step in the direction of peace in the Middle East.

A Necessary Explanation

President Trump has referred to ISIS. President Obama referred to ISIL. What is the difference, and why should we care? Actually the difference is significant, and the change is an important step in the right direction.

On Wednesday the American Center for Law and Justice posted an article on their website explaining the difference between ISIS and ISIL.

This is the essence of that article:

The change of leadership in the White House just produced a striking change of terminology in the war against the Islamic State terrorist group. The name preferred by the Obama Administration, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, (or ISIL) goes away. In its place comes the name favored by President Donald Trump: The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS.

A February 13, 2017 memo from the Office of the Secretary of Defense James Mattis says the switch to “ISIS” makes the Pentagon “consistent with” Trump’s language in a January 28 directive in which he called for a new plan to defeat the extremist group. That plan, to utterly destroy the terrorist group in Iraq and Syria, is due on the President’s desk today, although we may not know the details of the Pentagon’s recommendations for some time.

ISIS traces its roots to al-Qaida in Iraq, which declared an Islamic State of Iraq in 2006. In 2013 the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, renamed it the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham.

Al-Sham is an Arabic word for a vaguely defined territory that includes what is now Syria, Lebanon, Israel, the Palestinian territories and Jordan, virtually all of the Middle East. It is often translated as the Levant, the closest English term for the territory it describes and the term preferred by the Obama Administration. Alarmingly, the concept of Levant lumps Israel in with all the countries bordering the eastern Mediterranean in a nameless and demeaning fashion, thus denying that the historic land of Israel even dates back to the time of Abraham as their ancestor.

Al-Baghdadi claimed that the territory under his control would be a Caliphate, or Islamic State.  ISIS further believes, while it is not yet a political or geographical reality, that even now their self-proclaimed Caliphate is the moral and religious authority for this entire region, including the nation of Israel. Consistent with this viewpoint, violence is justified, even encouraged, against the Infidels living in these lands who do not recognize the “lawful” authority of the Islamic Caliphate.

Parenthetically, the opponents of ISIS in Iraq and other Arab countries call the Islamic State Daesh, an Arabic acronym corresponding to ISIS. The term is deliberately designed to mock and insult ISIS because it diminishes its territorial claims. It is also close to the word “dahesh” meaning “one who tramples,” an apt expression for the majority of the Muslim world who oppose the terrorist organization.

All of this makes the Obama Administration’s preference for the term “ISIL” all the more disturbing. In contrast with the Trump Administration’s decision to officially refer to ISIS, the Obama Administration’s official policy referred to the Islamic State as ISIL. Why?

The very term “ISIL,” with its intentional connection to the Levant as the land from which this murderous group would rule the Middle East, is aspirational. It reflects the ambitions of ISIS and its leader, al-Baghdadi. It elevates the group’s territorial conquests. This provokes two questions: (1) Why would then-President Obama, or anyone else for that matter, want to acknowledge the claims of a group of genocidal jihadists and use the name that this hateful group prefers? And 2) Why would anyone use a name that constitutes an encouragement for this bloody group which reifies their objective of conquering all of the Middle East, if not the world?

Provoked by such changes, since November 2015 the ACLJ has been critical of the terminology preferred by both the terror organization and President Obama. We have contended for almost two years that the name ISIL tacitly acknowledges the irrational claims of the terrorist group. To call them ISIL legitimizes this radical Islamic group, which commits genocide on Christians, Yazidis, and other religious minorities and murders all who stand in their way, including their fellow Muslims.

This is another example of the Trump Administration’s understanding the fact that Israel is our only true ally in the Middle East and that we need to support them in every way possible. Somehow the Obama Administration was not willing to do that.

The Fiction Of Moderate Muslims In Syria

Yesterday Andrew McCarthy posted an article at National Review Online about the Obama Administration’s policy toward Syria.

The article states:

In particular, there is the story line that Syria is really teeming with secular democrats and authentic moderate Muslims who would have combined forces to both overthrow Assad and fight off the jihadists if only President Obama had helped them. But his failure to act created a “vacuum” that was tragically filled by Islamist militants and gave rise to ISIS. At this point in the story, you are supposed to stay politely mum and not ask whether it makes any sense that real democrats and actual moderates would agree to be led by head-chopping, mass-murdering, freedom-stifling sharia terrorists.

In point of fact, there simply have never been enough pro-Western elements in Syria to win, no matter how much help came their way.

Any effort to pacify Syria will only result in events similar to what happened in Egypt. Actually, there no longer is a Syria–the Muslim Brotherhood, Al Qaeda, and their buddies do not recognize the borders drawn by western nations in the Middle East. What is happening in Iraq and Syria is an attempt to combine Iraq, Syria, and Iran into a caliphate. America‘s involvement in the situation is helping no one.

The article further reports:

The ball to keep your eye on here is al-Qaeda. The al-Nusra terrorist group is just al-Qaeda in Syria. Even ISIS is just a breakaway faction of al-Qaeda. And the Khorasan group is just a top-tier group of al-Qaeda veterans doing al-Qaeda’s work in conjunction with al Nusra — i.e., al-Qaeda.

The Obama administration disingenuously emphasizes these various foreign names to confuse Americans into thinking that there are various factions with diverse agendas in Syria — that al-Qaeda is no longer a problem because Obama has already dealt with it, and what remains are sundry groups of “moderate rebels” that the administration can work with in the effort to vanquish ISIS. Meanwhile, you are supposed to refrain from noticing that Obama’s original Syrian project — remember, he wanted Assad toppled — has given way to fighting ISIS . . . the very Sunni jihadists who were empowered by Obama’s lunatic policies of (a) switching sides in Libya in order to support the jihadists against Qaddafi and (b) abetting and encouraging Sunni Muslim governments in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey to arm Sunni militias in the fight against Assad — those militias having all along included al-Qaeda elements, some of which split off to become ISIS and now threaten to bite off the very hands that once fed them.

If there is a way to aid the refugees without sending troops, we need to do that. Sending troops to Iraq after President Obama squandered the victory that American troops had won is simply not smart.

Some Thoughts On Isis

There seem to be some differences within the Obama Administration as to how to deal with ISIS. ISIS is a rather nasty group of violent people who want to set up a Caliphate in the Middle East, as opposed to Iran–a rather nasty group of violent people attempting to develop nuclear weapons who want to set up a Caliphate in the Middle East. Keep in mind the aims are the same–the discussion is about who will be in charge. Just for the record, neither group’s plan includes Israel’s (or the Jewish people‘s) continuing existence. When the Caliphate expands past the Middle East, it will not include the continuing existence of Christians or any other non-Muslim people. That much both groups agree on.

So I got to thinking about how we should be dealing with ISIS. I was reminded of the book (and movie) Jurassic Park. I have always been fascinated by dinosaurs. I think T-Rex is an amazing animal. When I read the book and later saw the movie, I marveled at how the scientist involved had taken all precautions to ensure the safety of those visiting Jurassic Park and seeing the dinosaurs. He made every effort to manage any threat posed by the creatures so that no one would be at risk. We saw how that all worked out. Well, I wondered if a scientist could recreate a T-Rex in a size that would make it a fascinating house pet, what would a manageable size be? You are dealing with a carnivore, so it can’t be big enough to eat your children or pets. If you make it mouse-size, it is quite likely to chew on your toes. It becomes very obvious that there is no manageable size for a T-Rex as a house pet. It also should become very obvious to all of us at this point that there is no manageable size of ISIS. Let’s stop talking and act before any more innocent people are killed.