Wednesday, January 14, 2015

An al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula Leader Claims the Paris Attacks on Twitter

By Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi

The data below- a series of tweets by Bakhsaruf al-Danqulah (an AQAP leader active on Twitter)translated by me- seem to point to a growing probability of AQAP involvement behind the recent attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices etc. in Paris.

While the media have reported that one of the attackers supposedly claimed to be loyal to the Islamic State, that could just be an attempt to mislead the media with the worst Western nightmare: namely, a supposed coming together of al-Qa’ida and IS to attack the West.

1. Many followers are asking about the link between al-Qa’ida and those who carried out the Charlie Hebdo attack. The link is direct and the operation was supervised by AQAP.

2. The operation was directed by AQAP’s leadership. And they chose these targets out of desire to avenge the insult to the Holy Prophet.

3. And in France in particular for its undisguised role in the war on Islam and oppressed peoples.

4. The operation is an implementation of the threat of Sheikh Osama bin Laden in which he warned the West of the consequence in the long run of affront to the sanctities of Muslims.

5. He said in his message to the West: “If there is no limit to your freedom of speech, your chests will become broadened targets for our actions.”

6. The organization delayed implementation of the operation for security reasons dependent on the operatives. And the operation has a number of messages for all Western states.

7. Infringing on Islam’s sanctities and protecting those who mock them will bear a very heavy price. And the consequence will be severe and terrible.

8. The crimes of the Western states- especially America, Britain and France- will be turned on their heads within their abodes.

9. The policy of striking the far enemy which has remained for al-Qa’ida under Zawahiri’s leadership will continue in the realization of its aims, until the West falls back on itself.

10. The policy of the mujahideen of al-Qa’ida’s media incitement, especially Inspire magazine, has produced splendid results in the defining of its aims and marshalling potential.

11. For one of the authors put his name and photo [i.e. that of the editor of Charlie Hebdo] as a dead or alive target for the mujahideen, so the Western states should expect evil consequences and ruins by God’s power.

He then concludes with a call for people to disseminate and translate his tweets.



How are Things in Kobani?

By Jonathan Spyer

The battle for the Syrian Kurdish city of Kobani just entered its fourth month. It is now a fight for a heap of ruins. Four months of intense ground combat, involving tanks, mortars and RPGs as well as small arms, has reduced the city to rubble.

Nevertheless, Kobani matters. It is where the Syrian Kurds showed that with the right support, local fighters are capable of turning back the forces of the Islamic State.

Kobani also matters because as a result of the stand of the Kurdish YPG organization in the city, a potential reliable ally of the west in northern Syria has been identified. In the fight between rival successor entities over the ruins of Syria and Iraq, this is a relationship which deserves to be nurtured and developed.

I visited Kobani before the IS assault of the autumn. In March of last year, the enclave was under siege from four directions – the jihadis from south, east and west, and the Turkish authorities from the north. The Turks had a strange and ambiguous relationship with the ISIS jihadis. Sometimes the border gates would be opened to let them exit and enter. Wounded jihadis were treated in hospitals in Ceylanpinar across the border, with no questions asked.

Still, the Kurds were holding out. The positions near Tal Abyad to the east, and Jarabulus to the west, were well defended. In a place called Haj Ismail, I observed as the YPG responded swiftly and efficiently to the first signs of an ISIS attack.

Within the enclave, life was close to normal. There wasn’t a great deal of food. But the schools were operating, the hospitals were open. The Kurdish enclave had become a place of refuge for Syrian Arabs, too, seeking to flee the chaos of the fighting further west in Aleppo.

But the uneasy half-cold siege ended in September. The Islamic State, flush with new weaponry from the garrison in faraway Mosul, descended on the peaceful enclave. Their intention was to destroy it, so as to clear the way for their forces to move more easily between Raqqa province and Aleppo and Idleb.

They nearly succeeded. Despite the dogged defense of the YPG, the villages surrounding Kobani city began to fall. The civilian population was evacuated across the border. The YPG fighters prepared for a last stand within the city. What reversed the situation was the commencement of U.S. and coalition air attacks on the IS positions after October 6th. The air campaign evened out the YPG’s inferior weaponry, and the Kurds began to claw back control of the city.

Earlier this week, I spoke to Perwer Mohammed Ali, one of the Kurdish activists with whom I had worked back in March. Arrested by the Turks on leaving Kobani, Perwer made his way back to the enclave. I asked him about the current situation in the city.

“Right now its calm,” he told me. “The YPG control about 80% of the city. Daesh is still holding two neighborhoods – Kaniya Kurdan and Mikteleh. A couple of days ago, they tried to launch a counter attack. They had a tank with them, but they didn’t succeed.”

And are the coalition airstrikes helping?

“The coalition is good but we’d like them to target the tanks. IS has a bunch of them in Mikteleh.”

The liberation of Kobani seems near. The real task, says Perwer, will come afterwards. “Kobani is destroyed,” he told me, “so the big problem will be after the liberation.”

The liberation, nevertheless, seems imminent. When it comes, it will be testimony to the potency of U.S. air power, of course, but it will also be the result of the courage and determination of the fighters of the YPG.

The Middle East is the most dysfunctional political space on the planet. As has been amply demonstrated in recent days, ideas emanating from it and the bloody actions they inspire represent one of the most potent dangers to free societies anywhere.

The west cannot ignore the Middle East without abandoning it to anti-western forces. Engaging with the region, supporting allies, facing down dangers are all essential.

In the darkest days before the commencement of coalition bombing in Kobani, I sat in London with two leaders of the Kurdish PYD, the party that controls the Kurdish cantons in Syria. “Our situation,” they told me at that time, “is desperate.” The absence of even RPGs to deal with the IS armor seemed to presage doom.

Belatedly, Kobani was saved. The joint action of the U.S. Air Force and the YPG fighters who protected the town ought to be the start of a political relationship between the west and the Syrian Kurds. Dialogue with the PYD has begun. It should lead to a recognition of Kurdish national rights in both Syria and Iraq. In the ruins of these fragmented countries, there aren’t many reliable friends. There are some. The Kurds — in Syria as in Iraq — are chief among them. Their courage and their moderation deserve to be recognized and this recognition needs to be reflected in policy.



Fracking, Not Obamacare, Has Helped the Middle Class

Americans of all income levels would benefit from faster economic growth that raises wages. Unfortunately, wages are being held back by the very policies supported by those criticizing slow wage growth.

Liberals across the country supported the misnamed Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). The law’s mandates have made health coverage more expensive for both individuals and businesses.

However, it has not made those businesses any more profitable, or their workers any more productive.

Economic theory predicts that when benefit costs rise, employers cut wages. Empirical research confirms this prediction. Ironically, some of the most rigorous evidence for offsetting wage cuts comes from Jonathan Gruber, the Obamacare architect who boasted the health law takes advantage of Americans’ “stupidity.”

As of Jan. 1, Obamacare requires employers to pay a stiff penalty for each full-time worker they do not offer expensive “qualifying” health coverage to. They owe no penalty for part-time employees without such coverage. This gives many businesses a strong incentive to cut hours below 30 a week — cutting their workers’ take home pay in the process.

Fortunately, workers’ living standards have jumped recently — for reasons most liberals oppose. New “fracking” technology now allows entrepreneurs to extract oil from previously inaccessible shale formations. And America has a lot of shale oil. As a result, domestic energy production has surged. North Dakota alone now produces 1.2 million barrels of oil a day.

Fracking has created tens of thousands of good jobs. It has also reduced global energy prices. Gas prices have fallen by more than $1.25 a gallon since July. These lower energy prices will boost household spending power by $900 a year.

All this has happened over the objections of a lot of those complaining about low wages. Many liberals want to curtail fracking. Gov. Andrew Cuomo just banned it in New York state. Major unions have called for moratoriums on fracking. Yet energy entrepreneurs have done far more to boost the middle class than the health care overhaul liberals championed.


White House: We "Erred" in Skipping Parisian Rally

As I wrote yesterday, major officials from the United States skipped out on the massive anti-terrorism unity rally in Paris. Today, the White House admitted that they "erred" in their decision to not send someone other than the American ambassador to the country.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest admitted this afternoon that the United States should have sent someone with a higher profile. Both President Obama and Vice President Biden both had open schedules on Sunday, and while Attorney General Holder was in Paris at the time of the march, he was not present at the event. World leaders from more than 40 different nations were, however, at the march.

The decision to skip out on the rally has been criticized by many, from both the left and the right.



Netanyahu Implores Jews to Leave France, Come to Israel

Four Jews were murdered in Paris last week at a kosher grocery store. French President Francois Hollande summarily and emphatically declared it an “anti-Semitic” attack and urged all French citizens to spurn "racism and anti-Semitism” in all its forms. But Jews who have lived in France for their whole lives are again (and increasingly) questioning whether they should stay where they are, or uproot themselves to more tolerant and safer climates.

Tapping into these concerns, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu explicitly said over the weekend that all Jews in Europe are welcome -- and indeed belong -- in the Jewish State:

    "In a statement late on Saturday, Netanyahu said an Israeli governmental committee would convene in the coming week to find ways to boost Jewish immigration from France and other European countries "which are being hit by terrible anti-Semitism".

    "To all the Jews of France and to all the Jews of Europe, I wish to say: the State of Israel is not only the place to which you pray, the State of Israel is also your home," he said.

In an exclusive interview with the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, however, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said if Jews were to emigrate en masse from France, as is rumored to happen, the nation would “be judged a failure”:

    The choice was made by the French Revolution in 1789 to recognize Jews as full citizens,” Valls told me. “To understand what the idea of the republic is about, you have to understand the central role played by the emancipation of the Jews. It is a founding principle.”

    Valls, a Socialist who is the son of Spanish immigrants, describes the threat of a Jewish exodus from France this way: “If 100,000 French people of Spanish origin were to leave, I would never say that France is not France anymore. But if 100,000 Jews leave, France will no longer be France. The French Republic will be judged a failure.”

In other words, French Jews aren’t merely a community of people who happen, by chance, to live in France; they are inherently French and therefore their exodus would foundationally change the country itself. Nevertheless, it is expected that as many as 10,000 (if not more) Jews could leave France for the Jewish State in 2015 alone:

    Natan Sharansky, head of the Jewish Agency promoting emigration to Israel, said his estimate for 2015 was 10,000 French immigrants, after 3,300 in 2013 and 7,000 last year.

    "It will probably be much more than 10,000," he told Reuters at a Jewish Agency meeting for French considering emigration. Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liebermann, at his side, said about 700 Jews had attended the session during the day.

That’s nowhere near the 100,000 feared by Prime Minister Valls -- but it’s not insignificant, either.

“If I were 30, I would get out of France,” a middle-aged Jewish Frenchman named "Laurent S" recently told AFP. He suggested that anti-Semitism was on the rise and thus Israel would be an ideal place for him to resettle. But his age, he implied, makes this option less-than-desirable.

Still, it seems likely others will in time heed his advice, especially if Jewish families continue to feel unsafe and under threat in Western democracies throughout Europe.



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