The Beltway’s Syria Fairy Tales: The Khorasan Group, Moderate Rebels, and other Mythical Creatures By Andrew C. McCarthy

Since the outbreak of the latest Middle East war a few years back, we have been chronicling the Washington political class’s Syria Fairy Tales. 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. There was never going to be a moderate, democratic Syrian state without a U.S. invasion and occupation for a decade or more, an enterprise that would be politically untenable — and, as the Iraq enterprise shows, unlikely to succeed. The “moderate rebels” had no chance against Assad unless they colluded with the Islamist militants, who are vastly superior and more numerous fighters. And they would have even less chance of both knocking off Assad and staving off the jihadists.

The Obama administration and the Beltway commentariat have done their best to obscure these brute facts. Their main tactic is to exploit the American public’s unfamiliarity with the makeup of Syria. Obama Democrats and much of the Beltway GOP continue to invoke the “moderate Syrian rebels” while steadfastly refusing to identify just who those purported “moderates” are. They hope you won’t realize that, because of the dearth of actual moderate Muslims and freedom fighters, they must count among their “moderate rebels” both the Muslim Brotherhood (which should be designated as a terrorist organization) and various other Islamist factions, including . . . wait for it . . . parts of al-Nusra — i.e., al-Qaeda’s Syrian franchise.

We’ve also noted that a new wrinkle has recently been added to the Beltway’s Syria Fairy Tales: Obama’s Khorasan Fraud. In a desperate attempt to conceal the falsity of Obama’s boasts about destroying what is actually a resurgent al-Qaeda, the administration claimed that the threat to America that impelled Obama to start bombing Syria was not ISIS (supposedly just a “regional” threat), not al-Qaeda (already defeated, right?), but a hitherto unknown terrorist organization called the “Khorasan group.”

Inside the Plan to Block Obama’s Amnesty By Ryan Lovelace

Some congressional Republicans have a way to block the executive actions, but it won’t be easy.

When many Republicans were still celebrating the GOP’s historic electoral victory, conservatives on Capitol Hill began meeting in private to develop a plan to stop President Obama’s planned executive action on immigration. The resounding support of the American people at the polls last week appears to have given some House and Senate Republicans new confidence that they can face down Obama and win. Yet that doesn’t even mean they’ll necessarily get their chance: Republican leadership in both bodies may resist putting up the stakes involved.

Conservative members in both chambers want to pass a continuing resolution to fund the whole government with language that expressly prohibits using federal funds to enable any executive action on immigration policy, blocking funding, for instance, of work-authorization documents for illegal immigrants.

Congressmen will work this week on crafting a strategy to pass such a bill, and one working plan would have House Republicans include such language in a continuing resolution that’s needed to keep the government funded past mid-December.

Such an effort will probably run into the objections of Senate majority leader Harry Reid. Even if Republicans can persuade Reid to agree to those conditions — there are a number of Senate Democrats they think would support the idea — they’ll have to persuade the president to sign that CR, too. If Reid refuses to take up an amnesty-blocking bill before the existing continuing resolution expires — as one assumes he will — the plan is for House Republicans to pass a short-term continuing resolution set to expire just after the new Congress is seated, followed by a long-term CR in the new year that includes the anti-amnesty language.



Johnnie, get your gun,
Get your gun, get your gun,
Take it on the run,
On the run, on the run.
Hear them calling, you and me,
Every son of liberty.
Hurry right away,
No delay, go today,
Make your daddy glad
To have had such a lad.
Tell your sweetheart not to pine,
To be proud her boy’s in line.

Over there, over there,
Send the word, send the word over there –
That the Yanks are coming,
The Yanks are coming,
The drums rum-tumming
So prepare, say a prayer,
Send the word, send the word to beware.
We’ll be over, we’re coming over,
And we won’t come back till it’s over
Over there.

Johnnie, get your gun,
Get your gun, get your gun,
Johnnie show the Hun
Who’s a son of a gun.
Hoist the flag and let her fly,
Yankee Doodle do or die.
Pack your little kit,
Show your grit, do your bit.
Yankee to the ranks,
From the towns and the tanks.
Make your mother proud of you,
And the old Red, White and Blue.

Over there, over there,
Send the word, send the word over there –
That the Yanks are coming,
The Yanks are coming,
The drums rum-tumming
So prepare, say a prayer,
Send the word, send the word to beware.
We’ll be over, we’re coming over,
And we won’t come back till it’s over
Over there.

Extortion as Conciliation- Obama Offers not to Amnesty Illegal Aliens, Provided Republicans Do his Bidding on Immigration. By Rich Lowry

In a fit of postelection modesty, President Barack Obama is offering not to take executive action to amnesty millions of illegal immigrants — provided Republicans do his bidding on immigration.

It is extortion as conciliation. New Jersey governor Chris Christie often invites comparisons to The Sopranos, but it is President Obama who is making a tactic taken out of the HBO mob drama his major postelection initiative. His bipartisan outreach now ends with a pointed “Or else . . . ”

This offer Republicans can’t refuse includes the stipulation that the president will revoke his executive action in the event they pass legislation to his liking. How generous of him. We should all be pleased that he isn’t threatening Republican leaders with the release of compromising photos — yet.

Obama’s tack on immigration speaks to a president who is out of sorts and out of step, and who recognizes his own political impotence. Unable to build a political case for one of his chief second-term priorities, he has to fall back on executive usurpation.

Prior to the election, the president delayed his threatened amnesty — perhaps legalizing millions of immigrants — because it might harm Democrats. It still became an election issue, with Republicans hammering away at it and winning resoundingly. Even a relative dove on immigration such as Cory Gardner, the Republican senator-elect from Colorado, opposed Obama’s executive action.

This electoral rebuke might give a less highhanded president pause. Not President Obama. He rules from an Olympian height above mere election results and mere constitutional constraints on his power.

The president says that he’d still “prefer” that Congress itself change the immigration laws. For him, this is a positively Madisonian expression of respect for the American constitutional scheme.


Arafat–Ten Years Later by Elliott Abrams

“After the Israeli victory in 1967, civic life began to grow in the West Bank and Gaza. Roughly 700 NGOs were formed, the economy grew, and a far better future seemed possible. But after Arafat returned to rule in 1994, he crushed that civic life, made a mockery of the new Palestinian legislature that had been formed, and substituted a corrupt dictatorship. Theft of aid funds was constant and totaled around a billion dollars. Arafat created thirteen “security” forces that he manipulated to assure his total control, and most were also involved in acts of violence: Ariel Sharon used to call them “security-terror organizations.” The rise of Hamas owes a great deal to the disgust many Palestinians felt toward the repressive and corrupt PLO and PA that Arafat built.”

Yasser Arafat died ten years ago, on November 11, 2004.

I am posting this “appreciation” a bit early, and anticipating an outflow of mourning and praise for Arafat next week. In fact, he was a curse to Palestinians.

To measure the damage Arafat did as the Palestinian leader, let’s begin with a comparison. Just 9 days before Arafat’s death, on November 2, 2004, Sheik Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan died. Sheik Zayed’s death was not greeted with the global mourning, nor with the ceremonies and speeches at the United Nations that Arafat got. This is grotesque, because he was the father of his country, the UAE, and a model of sober, responsible, constructive leadership. Born in 1918 in one of the Trucial States, he lived as a Bedouin for all his early years. Yet he was wise enough to understand the modern world that was growing up around him, and to see the need for the Trucial States to federate when the British left in 1971. So he negotiated and then led the federation. The enormous success of the UAE today, and its role as a key U.S. ally, owe an incalculable amount to this man.

That’s one kind of leadership. Arafat provides another model: charismatic to be sure, but also violent, corrupt, destructive leadership that created the political mess in which Palestinians live today. When he had a great chance for peace, a chance to create a Palestinian state at Camp David in 2000, he said no. He had a historic opportunity then–remember, the foreign “leader” with the greatest number of visits to Bill Clinton’s White House was Arafat–but he kicked it away rather than seizing it. The defense of Arafat is that Palestinians were not really prepared for him to say yes, and not prepared for the concessions peace would require. I agree–but whose fault was that? Arafat’s.

State Dept. Tells Israel to ‘De-escalate Tensions’ After Bloody Day of Terrorist Stabbings Bridget Johnson (!!!???)

The State Department called upon Israel and the Palestinian Authority to “de-escalate tensions” after two Israelis were killed in separate stabbings by terrorists Monday.

Almog Shiloni, 20, served in the Israel Air Force and was attacked in the afternoon near the Haganah train station in south Tel Aviv. He died of his wounds at the hospital.

Nur a-Din Hashiya, from the Askar refugee camp in Nablus, was apprehended in the attack, Haaretz reported, adding he had entered the country illegally.

“It just can’t be like this,” the victim’s twin brother told media. “There are soldiers and people getting hurt, being stabbed in the streets. You can’t go out in this country alone, you can’t go out into this country quietly. This is our state, we fought for it, and my twin brother fought for his life.”

Hours after Shiloni was attacked, another knife-wielding terrorist struck again at a bus stop in the West Bank settlement of Alon Shvut.

Dalia Lemkus, 26, was stabbed in the neck and killed. Two men, including one driving by who stopped to fight the terrorist, were injured. A security guard shot the attacker, Maher Hamdi al-Hashalmoun from Hebron, who survived. The Times of Israel reported that al-Hashalmoun, affiliated with Islamic Jihad, spent time in Israeli prison.

Lemkus had survived a stabbing eight years ago.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened an emergency meeting of his security council after the attacks.

Clarence Schwab: An Essay from the Book “God, Faith & Identity from the Ashes, Reflections of Children and Grandchildren of Holocaust Survivors” (Jewish Lights Publishing)

CLARENCE SCHWAB IS A FRIEND AND E-PAL….THIS IS HIS ESSAY FROM: God, Faith & Identity from the Ashes Reflections of Children and Grandchildren of Holocaust Survivors
Edited by Menachem Z. Rosensaft
Prologue by Elie Wiesel

At our weekly Shabbat dinner, my wife Pam and I ask our children Zachary and Eleonora, and ourselves, two questions: “Did an opportunity present itself to you this past week to help someone or protect someone from a bully?” and “What questions did you ask, or want to ask, in school?”

The first question encourages ethical action; the second, thinking for oneself and speaking one’s mind.

I am the son of a young Holocaust survivor and the grandson of a rescuer. The Nazis and their collaborators murdered twenty members of my immediate family. When I was about eleven years old, my parents, both born in Latvia, began sharing with me my father’s and other family members’ experiences during World War II. And my grandfather and mother started telling me how my grandfather helped save the lives of tens of thousands of Jews.

The circumstances of my father’s survival and my grandfather’s insistence on coming to the aid of others have always inspired me.

I tell my children how in late April 1945 my father, George Schwab, then 13 years old and severely undernourished after a week on a barge with just half a loaf of bread and little drinking water, was forced on a march in Germany. During the previous four years, he had survived the Libau ghetto and several concentration and labor camps. Utterly exhausted, he no longer cared and just wanted to lie down. One of his fellow prisoners, Jule Goldberg, himself in acute pain from an injured, swollen, leg bitten by an SS guard’s dog, took my father by the neck of his ragged prisoner uniform, saying “You are coming with me.” This one selfless act saved my father’s life. Surreally, British troops liberated them only hours later.

What matters most, I tell my children, is not someone’s appearance, or intelligence, or strength, or wealth, but whether, when presented with an opportunity to do so, that person helps another in time of need – even or especially at personal cost or risk.

End the Bush-Obama Fecklessness: Destroy Iran’s Nuclear Facilities Now By Andrew G. Bostom ****

The Obama administration and Iran’s rulers, spurred by the latter’s alleged “pragmatic” wing [1], appear to be rushing headlong towards a final agreement on November 24, 2014, which would validate Iran’s right to enrich uranium for putative non-military uses, and also provide the global jihad-promoting Shiite theocracy [2] extensive relief from economic sanctions. This mutually desired outcome was strongly hinted at by both U.S. Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman during an October 23, 2014 speech [3], and the recent public statements [1] of key Iranian regime advisors.

Indeed, reports surfaced this past week [4] that President Obama himself has made direct, supplicating overtures to Iran’s head Shiite theocrat, Ayatollah Khamenei, linking U.S.-Iranian “cooperation” in fighting the Islamic State Sunni jihadists, to reaching a final nuclear agreement November 24, per the so-called “P5 +1” (= the U.S., Britain, France, Russia, China, i.e., the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, plus Germany) negotiations process. At a post-midterm elections press conference, 11/5/14, Mr. Obama openly expressed [5] his endorsement of the apparently forthcoming nuclear deal with Iran:

I think that we’ll be able to make a strong argument to Congress that this is the best way for us to avoid a nuclear Iran, that it will be more effective than any other alternatives we might take, including military action.

Pace Mr. Obama’s and his advisers’ “arguments”—a toxic brew of willful, dangerous delusion, ignorance, and cynicism—the diplomatic processes they are aggressively pursuing will inevitably yield an Iran armed with nuclear weapons. Thus within two days of the U.S. President’s latest roseate pronouncement, a tocsin of looming calamity was sounded in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report [6] released Friday, 11/7/14.

Even the centerpiece of touted P5 +1 negotiations’ “success,” curtailment of Iran’s uranium enrichment program, was questioned by the IAEA, which noted the Islamic Republic was continuing activities “which are in contravention of its obligation to suspend all enrichment-related activities.” The IAEA report [6] further observed that contrary to its relevant commitments, “Iran has not suspended work on all heavy water related projects.” Most ominously, the IAEA report highlighted [6] Iran’s failure to cooperate and resolve “outstanding issues related to possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear program.” Specifically, the IAEA expressed [6] its remaining concern,

about the possible existence in Iran of undisclosed nuclear related activities involving military related organizations, including activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile.

As War Heats Up, Obama Dismantles War Approach to Counterterrorism By Andrew C. McCarthy

Last week, while Republicans popped open the champagne over the electorate’s emphatic rejection of the Obama left’s policies, Mr. Obama significantly advanced one he’s been pushing – against public opinion and with haltingly incremental success – since the first hours of his presidency. Lost amid Shellacking 2.0 – and between the sudden dump of over 60,000 previously withheld Fast & Furious documents and the president’s reaffirmation of his executive illegal-alien amnesty vow – was the administration’s further dismantling of the post-9/11 counterterrorism paradigm.

With nearly no one noticing, the administration transferred a long-held terrorist detainee out of Guantanamo Bay. Fawzi al-Odah was returned to his native Kuwait, another Gulf halfway house between Gitmo and return to the jihad. He had been detained under the laws of war for over a dozen years because he was assessed as posing a continuing danger. Naturally, his release was instantly heralded by an al Qaeda leader in Syria – indeed, by a top figure in what the administration refers to as the Khorasan group, the al Qaeda component plotting attacks against the U.S. and the West. And astoundingly, it appears that al Qaeda knew Odah’s release was coming before the American people were informed.

Odah’s transfer comes just as the president, forced to confront the increased jihadist threat from al Qaeda and ISIS, has escalated the number of American troops (as “advisers” only, of course) and continues conducting an aerial bombing campaign. It fulfills a prediction made this past summer by former Attorney General Michael Mukasey and other commentators (including your humble correspondent): The release in July of five Taliban commanders in exchange for the deserter Bowe Bergdahl was intended to help Obama achieve the vow to close Guantanamo Bay, made on his first day in office. (Actually, Obama promised to close Gitmo within a year. He is five years behind schedule because Americans hate the idea, igniting strong congressional opposition.)

The laws of war, the foundation of Bush-Cheney post-9/11 counterterrorism, provide for detention without trial of enemy combatants until the conclusion of hostilities. Hostilities are not close to being over – as Obama quite obviously recognizes since our forces continue to conduct lethal attacks. We know, moreover, that a very high percentage of former detainees return to the jihad. The CIA has conceded that it could be 20 percent, but the truth is it’s no doubt higher – our intelligence community has no idea who goes back to the jihad unless they encounter the terrorist on the battlefield or are in the unusual position of having good intelligence about about what he’s up to. We do know that former Gitmo detainees regularly resurface as al Qaeda leaders in places like in Yemen, Iraq and Libya.

If Iran Says ‘Yes’ ….Bret Stephens

Why should a regime that has paid no price for dishonesty suddenly discover the virtues of honesty?

I am on record predicting that a nuclear deal with Iran will founder on the opposition of the Islamic Republic’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei. Iranian diplomats, I wrote in May, “will allow this round of negotiations to fail and bargain instead for an extension of the current interim agreement. It will get the extension and then play for time again. There will never be a final deal.”

I was vindicated on the first point in July, when John Kerry purchased a five-month extension for the talks with $2.8 billion in direct sanctions relief for Tehran. I’d be willing to make a modest bet that I’ll be vindicated again when the Nov. 24 deadline for a deal expires. The latest talks in Oman between Mr. Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif seem to have gone nowhere. As Jimmy Carter discovered during the hostage crisis, the mullahs are especially contemptuous toward those they see as weak.

But let’s say I’m wrong. What sort of deal would we likely get?

Above all, it will be a technical deal. Hyper-technical. If you want to master its details, be prepared to know the difference not just between LEU (low-enriched uranium) and HEU (high-enriched), but also between IR1 and the far more efficient IR2 centrifuges. You’ll need to know what a cascade is, and you’ll have to appreciate the importance of footprints when it comes to M&V (monitoring and verification) mechanisms. You’ll have to appreciate that, as in watches, proliferation resistant is not the same thing as proliferation proof, an important point if Russia is to turn Iran’s enriched uranium into fuel rods for the reactor at Bushehr.