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For The Record  

FTR #862 9/11, The Muslim Brotherhood and the Earth Island Boogie, Part 1

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This program was recorded in one, 60-minute segment

ISIS recruits pledging allegiance

Introduction: This program underscores key aspects of the highly complex dynamics surrounding the 9/11 attacks and subsequent events.

What is missing in discussion of the attacks and subsequent events is analysis of the relationship between the Brotherhood’s Islamic fascism and the terrorist groups that occupy the headlines–Al Qaeda and ISIS, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Chechen terrorists.

Beyond that, the corporatist economic doctrine of the Muslim Brotherhood and the apparent use of its knockoff terrorist groups as proxy warriors by elements of Western and Saudi intelligence are as fundamental to a true understanding of the phenomenon and they are absent from the vast bulk of media discussion.

Brotherhood offshoots have proved particularly valuable as proxy warriors in petroleum and mineral-rich areas of the Earth Island.

Very, very tragically, the world has chosen to ignore the fundamentally important Operation Green Quest raids of 3/20/2002, which revealed profound links between the Bush administration, the Islamic Free Market Institute of Grover Norquist and the funding apparatus supplying Al Qaeda and Hamas with liquidity.

The continued bloodshed is part of the price people are paying for that deadly failure.

It might be difficult for some people to understand this. A duality dominates analysis of the dynamics of this situation–a duality similar to one underlying both the Second World War and the Cold War. World War II was a very real conflict, with American service men and women, as well as those of the other Allied countries, fighting against the armies of fascism. At the same time, dominant U.S. and Western financial and industrial interests favored their cartel partners in the Axis nations and the corporatist economic philosophy they embraced.

Chechens in Ukraine (photo credit Reuters)

After the official end of the combat of World War II, the U.S. and U.K. incorporated the residua of the Third Reich’s national security establishment into their own and saw to it that the fascist infrastructure in Germany, Japan and elsewhere was maintained in power, behind a thin facade of democracy.

In addition, they supported and enlisted fascists from other countries to assist with the fight against Communism. The Muslim Brotherhood was one of those.

The political duality we are experiencing is similar to that of World War II–even as American service personnel and those of other countries are fighting a very real war against Islamic fascism, powerful corporate interests are supportive of the Muslim Brotherhood fascists and their corporate philosophy.

The broadcast begins by reviewing the fact that legal advice to the Bin Laden construction firm is provided by the Sullivan & Cromwell law firm.

Sullivan & Cromwell featured Allen and John Foster Dulles as its (arguably) most important attorneys.  It doesn’t require a great leap of imagination to see continuity between that firm’s role on behalf of SBG (Saudi Bin Laden Group), the Dulles brothers’ involvement with the financial networks that financed the Third Reich and the firm’s efforts on behalf of U.S. financial firms seeking to blunt the Treasury Department’s proposed new anti-terrorism regulations.

Note that Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill was forced to resign shortly after the Operation Green Quest raids of 3/20/2002.

Next, we note that the presence in Chechnya of Muslim Brotherhood, Wahhabi and Al Qaeda related elements is well documented. Saudi Prince Bandar (nicknamed “Bandar Bush”) has been quite frank about Saudi control of the Chechen fighters.

Two different types of fascist cadres are operating in tandem in Ukraine–in addition to the OUN/B heirs such as the Pravy Sektor formations, Chechen fighters (almost certainly allied with some element of Muslim Brotherhood) are now fighting alongside them and under the Pravy Sektor administrative command.

Hamas Soldiers Saluting (Hamas is the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood)

The Chechen formations are described as “brothers” of the Islamic State. (The Boston Marathon bombing appears to have been blowback from a covert operation backing jihadists in the Caucasus. That “op” has apparently been extended to Ukraine.)

Much of the program focuses on the corporatist economic philosophy of the Brotherhood. It is this economic philosophy that has endeared it to powerful corporate interests in the U.S. and elsewhere, as well as the GOP.

Program Highlights Include:

  • Review of the World Bank’s high regard for Ibn Khaldun, the Muslim Brotherhood’s economic theoretician.
  • Review of “former” CIA official Graham Fuller’s views on the positive value of Islamic radicals.
  • Review of the networking between prominent American political and diplomatic figures and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.
  • Review of the links between Khairat el-Shater, the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda.
1a. The broadcast reviews some of the “networking” that has occurred among the house of Saud, the Third Reich, the Dulles brothers (principal operators in Sullivan & Cromwell) and British spy and Nazi agent Jack Philby.

. . . . This period, stretching from the end of World War I to just after the end of World War II, was characterized by three very evil men: Jack Philby, a British spy; Ibn Saud, his Arab protégé; and Allen Dulles, an American spy and Wall Street lawyer specializing in international finance.

The racist nature of their secret war against Zionism does not appear in history books for a simple reason. Jack Philby later was paid by Western oil companies to write pro-Arab propaganda disguised as history. Ibn Saud is remembered as the glorious Arab leader who unified Saudi Arabia and led the richest oil region in the world into partnership with the West. Philby, if he is remembered at all, has the reputation of a scholarly British Arabist overshadowed by his son, Kim, the infamous Soviet double agent.

Jack Philby has become an obscure footnote to the history of the Cold war. But his legacy was far from minor. He is one of the lesser-known but most influential persons in the modern history of the Middle East, the renegade British intelligence agent who plucked an obscure terrorist out of the desert and helped to make him the king of Saudi Arabia. Ibn Saud was very much his creation. Philby stole the information from British intelligence files that engineered Saudi control over the holiest shrines of the Moslem world.

Jack Philby and Ibn Saud betrayed the British Empire and made the American oil companies economic masters of the region. The man who helped them do it was Allen Dulles, an American spy who had befriended Philby while he was coordinating American intelligence gathering in the Middle East in the first half of the 1920’s.

Between them, these three men built the very foundations of the modern Middle East. They were the architects of the oil weapon, the instigators of war, the manipulators of history. More important, Philby’s and Ibn Saud’s political and philosophical allegiance was to Nazi Germany, while much of Dulles’s profits came from the same source. . . .

1a. The broadcast reviews the fact that legal advice to the Bin Laden construction firm is provided by the Sullivan & Cromwell law firm.

Holy War, Inc.: Inside the Secret World of Osama Bin Laden; Peter L. Bergen; Copyright 2002 [SC]; ISBN 0-7432-3495-2; p. 49.

“Furthermore, the family company maintained a satellite office in Maryland during the 1990’s, employs a public relations agency in Manhattan, and receives legal advice from the white-shoe law firm Sullivan & Cromwell.”

2. Sullivan & Cromwell featured Allen and John Foster Dulles as its (arguably) most important attorneys.  It doesn’t require a great leap of imagination to see continuity between that firm’s role on behalf of SBG (Saudi Bin Laden Group), the Dulles brothers’ involvement with the financial networks that financed the Third Reich and the firm’s efforts on behalf of U.S. financial firms seeking to blunt the Treasury Department’s proposed new anti-terrorism regulations.

Note that Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill was forced to resign shortly after the article excerpted here was published.

“Finance Sector Hits at Moves to Curb Terror Funds” by Edward Alden; Financial Times; 7/3/2002; p. 2.

“The U.S. financial services industry has launched its first serious challenge to the slew of new regulations from Washington aimed at staunching the flow of funds to terrorist groups.”

3. “The concerns, spelled out this week by 11 industry trade groups representing nearly every major U.S. financial institution, cast serious doubt on the U.S. administration’s plans to implement the most important of those regulations by a July 23 deadline.”

(Idem.)

4. “They could also mark the beginning of a split between the government and industry over just how much new regulation in needed to discourage financing of terrorist groups.”

(Idem.)

5. “The Treasury department wants all banks and other financial groups to set up elaborate schemes to monitor correspondent and private banking accounts opened in the U.s. by foreign banks or individuals.  These are thought to be a main conduit for dirty money flowing into the U.S. financial system.”

(Idem.)

6. “The rules could also seriously disrupt established financial relationships, the letter warned.  In the most extreme instances, financial institutions from a handful of countries such as Russia, the Philippines and Egypt could be barred from dealing with U.S. banks unless they make available data on all their customers worldwide.”

(Idem.)

7. H. Rodgin Cohen, a lawyer with Sullivan & Cromwell, who led the effort on behalf of the 11 groups, said the Treasury’s definition of risky correspondent accounts was ‘so broad that they pick up basically all relationships between U.S. financial institutions and foreign institutions and foreign financial institutions.”

(Idem.)

8. The broadcast delineates Labaviere’s allegations concerning the profound relationship between the Saudis, the Muslim Brotherhood, elements of U.S. intelligence and the Bin Laden organization.

Dollars for Terror: The United States and Islam; by Richard Labeviere; Copyright 2000 [SC]; Algora Publishing; ISBN 1-892941-06-6; pp. 14-5.

. . . . Many times over, American, European and Arab diplomats and public officials advised me to follow the trail of ‘the dollars of terror.’ . . Every time, I was brought back to both the official and the secret structures of Saudi finance. Every time, I stumbled on the fraternity of the Muslim Brothers. . .Where does the money for this dangerous proselytism come from? . . . Saudi Arabia and other oil monarchies allied with the United States. The greatest world power is fully aware of this development. Indeed, its information [intelligence] agencies have encouraged it . . . . The CIA and its Saudi and Pakistani homologues continue [as of 1999] to sponsor Islamism. . . .

9. Highlighting the comparisons between the Brotherhood’s program and those of Mussolini and Hitler, the broadcast continues:

Dollars for Terror: The United States and Islam; by Richard Labeviere; Copyright 2000 [SC]; Algora Publishing; ISBN 1-892941-06-6; p. 127.

. . . . Taking Italy’s choices under Mussolini for inspiration, the economic program set three priorities . . . The social policy foresaw a new law on labor, founded on corporations. This economic program would more directly reveal its relationship to totalitarian ideologies a few years later, with the works of Mohamed Ghazali . . . . Mohamed Ghazali recommended ‘an economic regimen similar to that which existed in Nazi Germany and fascist Italy.’ . . . The moral code is also an important component in this program, which is intended to create the ‘new Muslim man.’ . . . The notion of the equality of the sexes is inherently negated by the concept of the supremacy of male social responsibilities. . .the ‘natural’ place of the woman is in the home. . . .

  10. About the Muslim Brotherhood’s economic doctrine:

“Islam in Office” by Stephen Glain; Newsweek; 7/3–10/2006.

Judeo-Christian scrip­ture offers lit­tle eco­nomic instruc­tion. The Book of Deuteron­omy, for exam­ple, is loaded with edicts on how the faith­ful should pray, eat, bequeath, keep the holy fes­ti­vals and treat slaves and spouses, but it is silent on trade and com­merce. In Matthew, when Christ admon­ishes his fol­low­ers to ‘give to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s,’ he is effec­tively con­ced­ing fis­cal and mon­e­tary author­ity to pagan Rome. Islam is dif­fer­ent. The prophet Muhammad—himself a trader—preached mer­chant honor, the only reg­u­la­tion that the bor­der­less Lev­an­tine mar­ket knew. . . .

. . . In Mus­lim liturgy, the deals cut in the souk become a metaphor for the con­tract between God and the faith­ful. And the busi­ness model Muham­mad pre­scribed, accord­ing to Mus­lim schol­ars and econ­o­mists, is very much in the laissez-faire tra­di­tion later embraced by the West. Prices were to be set by God alone—anticipating by more than a mil­len­nium Adam Smith’s ref­er­ence to the ‘invis­i­ble hand’ of market-based pric­ing. Mer­chants were not to cut deals out­side the souk, an early attempt to thwart insider trad­ing. . . . In the days of the caliphate, Islam devel­oped the most sophis­ti­cated mon­e­tary sys­tem the world had yet known. Today, some econ­o­mists cite Islamic bank­ing as fur­ther evi­dence of an intrin­sic Islamic prag­ma­tism. Though still guided by a Qur’anic ban on riba, or inter­est, Islamic bank­ing has adapted to the needs of a boom­ing oil region for liq­uid­ity. In recent years, some 500 Islamic banks and invest­ment firms hold­ing $2 tril­lion in assets have emerged in the Gulf States, with more in Islamic com­mu­ni­ties of the West.

British Chan­cel­lor of the Exche­quer Gor­don Brown wants to make Lon­don a global cen­ter for Islamic finance—and elic­its no howl of protest from fun­da­men­tal­ists. How Islamists might run a cen­tral bank is more prob­lem­atic: schol­ars say they would manip­u­late cur­rency reserves, not inter­est rates.

The Mus­lim Broth­er­hood hails 14th cen­tury philoso­pher Ibn Khal­dun as its eco­nomic guide. Antic­i­pat­ing supply-side eco­nom­ics, Khal­dun argued that cut­ting taxes raises pro­duc­tion and tax rev­enues, and that state con­trol should be lim­ited to pro­vid­ing water, fire and free graz­ing land, the util­i­ties of the ancient world. The World Bank has called Ibn Khal­dun the first advo­cate of pri­va­ti­za­tion. [Empha­sis added.] His found­ing influ­ence is a sign of mod­er­a­tion. If Islamists in power ever do clash with the West, it won’t be over com­merce. . . .

11. In addition to the apparent use of Muslim Brotherhood/Islamist elements as proxy warriors against Russia and China, the Brotherhood’s corporatist economics are beloved to Graham Fuller, as well as corporate elements cdhampioned by Grover Norquist.

“Chech­nyan Power” by Mark Ames; nsfwcorp.com; 6/5/2013.

. . . Fuller comes from that fac­tion of CIA Cold War­riors who believed (and still appar­ently believe) that fun­da­men­tal­ist Islam, even in its rad­i­cal jihadi form, does not pose a threat to the West, for the sim­ple rea­son that fun­da­men­tal­ist Islam is con­ser­v­a­tive, against social jus­tice, against social­ism and redis­tri­b­u­tion of wealth, and in favor of hier­ar­chi­cal socio-economic struc­tures. Social­ism is the com­mon enemy to both cap­i­tal­ist Amer­ica and to Wah­habi Islam, accord­ing to Fuller.

Accord­ing to jour­nal­ist Robert Drey­fuss’ book “Devil’s Game,” Fuller explained his attrac­tion to rad­i­cal Islam in neoliberal/libertarian terms:

“There is no main­stream Islamic organization…with rad­i­cal social views,” he wrote.Clas­si­cal Islamic the­ory envis­ages the role of the state as lim­ited to facil­i­tat­ing the well-being of mar­kets and mer­chants rather than con­trol­ling them. Islamists have always pow­er­fully objected to social­ism and communism….Islam has never had prob­lems with the idea that wealth is unevenly dis­trib­uted.” . . . .

12. Fuller has long been an advocate of a “turn to the Brotherhood.”

“In Search of Friends Among the Foes: U.S. Hopes to Work with Diverse Group” by John Mintz and Douglas Farah; The Washington Post; 9/11/2004; p. A01.

. . . Some federal agents worry that the Muslim Brotherhood has dangerous links to terrorism. But some U.S. diplomats and intelligence officials believe its influence offers an opportunity for political engagement that could help isolate violent jihadists. ‘It is the preeminent movement in the Muslim world,’ said Graham E. Fuller, a former CIA official specializing in the Middle East. ‘It’s something we can work with.’ Demonizing the Brotherhood ‘would be foolhardy in the extreme’ he warned.” . . .

13. More about the corporatist economic philosophy of the Muslim Brotherhood follows. Note that Khairat el-Shater was alleged by Egyptian intelligence to have been running Mohamed Morsi. (We covered this in FTR #787.) In turn, he was reported to be serving as a liaison between Morsi and Mohamed Zawahiri, the brother of Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Zawahiri. Shater was also networked with: Anne Patterson, U.S. ambassador to Egypt, GOP Senator John McCain and GOP Senator Lidsay Graham. In turn, Shater was alleged to have transferred $50 million from the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood to Al-Qaeda at the time that he was networking with the Americans and Morsi. Hey, what’s $50 million between friends?

“The GOP Brotherhood of Egypt” by Avi Asher-Schapiro; Salon.com; 1/25/2012.

While Western alarmists often depict Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood as a shadowy organization with terrorist ties, the Brotherhood’s ideology actually has more in common with America’s Republican Party than with al-Qaida. Few Americans know it but the Brotherhood is a free-market party led by wealthy businessmen whose economic agenda embraces privatization and foreign investment while spurning labor unions and the redistribution of wealth. Like the Republicans in the U.S., the financial interests of the party’s leadership of businessmen and professionals diverge sharply from those of its poor, socially conservative followers.

The Brotherhood, which did not initially support the revolution that began a year ago, reaped its benefits, capturing nearly half the seats in the new parliament, which was seated this week, and vaulting its top leaders into positions of power.

Arguably the most powerful man in the Muslim Brotherhood is Khairat Al-Shater, a multimillionaire tycoon whose financial interests extend into electronics, manufacturing and retail. A strong advocate of privatization, Al-Shater is one of a cadre of Muslim Brotherhood businessmen who helped finance the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party’s impressive electoral victory this winter and is now crafting the FJP’s economic agenda.

At Al-Shater’s luxury furniture outlet Istakbal, a new couch costs about 6,000 Egyptian pounds, about $1,000 in U.S. currency. In a country where 40 percent of the population lives on less than $2 a day, Istakbal’s clientele is largely limited to Egypt’s upper classes.

Although the Brothers do draw significant support from Egypt’s poor and working class, “the Brotherhood is a firmly upper-middle-class organization in its leadership,” says Shadi Hamid, a leading Muslim Brotherhood expert at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

Not surprisingly, these well-to-do Egyptians are eager to safeguard their economic position in the post-Mubarak Egypt. Despite rising economic inequality and poverty, the Brotherhood does not back radical changes in Egypt’s economy.

The FJP’s economic platform is a tame document, rife with promises to root out corruption and tweak Egypt’s tax and subsidies systems, with occasional allusions to an unspecific commitment to “social justice.” The platform praises the mechanisms of the free market and promises that the party will work for “balanced, sustainable and comprehensive economic development.” It is a program that any European conservative party could get behind. . . .

14. An article touches on Russian charges that the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda-related elements are involved with the Chechen rebels. The article is patronizing and dismissive in tone, despite the fact that the presence in Chechnya of Muslim Brotherhood, Wahhabi and Al Qaeda related elements is well documented.

Note that Prince Bandar (nicknamed “Bandar Bush”) has been quite frank about Saudi control of the Chechen fighters.

 “Russia Recasts Bog in Caucasus as War on Terror” by Steven Lee Myers; The New York Times; 10/5/2002; p. A1.

Three years after Russian forces poured into Chechnya for the second time, the war grinds on, but Russia’s characterization of the fight without end has changed. No longer are 85,000 Russian troops and police officers simply engaged in crushing a battle for independence; instead, Chechnya has become Russia’s war on terror. Using the rationale and sometimes the rhetoric of the Bush administration’s antiterrorism campaign, commanders here said this week that the Chechen war is financed, armed and increasingly fought by Islamic militants from abroad. The shift explains Russia’s roiling tensions with Georgia the former Soviet republic bordering Chechnya that president Vladimir Putin has accused of sheltering what he calls Chechen and international terrorists. . . .

. . . .The accusations against Georgia–like the accusations against the Chechens are sponsored by Muslim Brotherhood and other foreign fighters—appear rooted in Russia’s frustration and a desire to external blame for the continued fighting. [Those accusations appear to be based in considerable measure in fact–D.E.] . . .

15. FTR#’s 330, 334, and 337 describe [Saudi intelligence chief] Prince Turki’s resignation shortly before the 9/11 attacks. In addition, FTR#343, among other programs, discusses the allegation that Turki “ran” Osama Bin Laden. An intriguing (and detailed) piece of scholarship recently linked Turki, the Saudi Royal family, the Muslim Brotherhood and Youssef Nada (Al Taqwa’s founder.) In turn, the broadcast delineates these elements’ activities vis a vis the Chechen rebels.

“The Politics of Three—Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Israel” by Paul W. Rasche; Studien von Zeitfragen; 35. Jahrgang InternetAusgabe 2001; p. 6; accessed at www.studien-von-zeit…bal/Coalition_Risks/coalition_risks.html.

The president of the Al Taqwa Bank Group is Youssef Mustapha Nada, naturalized Italian, and a member of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and Jamaa-al-Islamiya, which is directly allied with Al Qaeda through Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, said by some intelligence sources to be the brains behind bin Laden. When the Bahamas closed Al Taqwa Bank Ltd. early this year, Swiss authorities required a name change in Al Taqwa Bank, which then became registered in Switzerland as Nada Management Organization SA. It is the same Al Taqwa Bank. . . .

16. Nada’s relationship with the Brotherhood, the Saudis and Islamist finance is highlighted in the following passage.

In 1970, Youssef Nada moved to Saudi Arabia and, with help from the Muslim Brotherhood, established contact with members of the Saudi Royal family, and founded a construction company in Riyadh, much the same as the Bin Laden family. He remained active in Riyadh, and soon founded the first Islamic bank in Egypt, the Faisal Bank.

(Idem.)

17. Reviewing information first presented in FTR#343, the broadcast underscores the relationship between former Saudi intelligence chief Prince Turki, Bin Laden, Nada and the Faisal Islamic Bank.

The Faisal Islamic Bank of Saudi Arabia is the head bank of a number of affiliated Islamic Banks under that name across the Islamic world from Egypt to Pakistan to the Emirates and Malaysia. The head of Faisal Islamic Bank of Saudi Arabia is former Saudi Intelligence Chief, Turki al-Faisal. Faisal Islamic Bank is directly involved in running accounts for bin Laden and his associates, and has been named by Luxembourg banking authorities in this regard.

(Ibid.; p. 7.)

18. The nexus outlined above is intimately involved with the Al Haramain religious charity, allegedly used to channel funds to the Chechen rebels.

In Sudan, Osama bin Laden and Al Qaida have been named as principals in the Shamal bank in the 1990’s. The bank transferred the funds for the US Embassy bombings in East Africa in 1998, according to trial testimony in New York. A 15% share in al Shamal is held by wealthy Saudi financier, Saleh Abdullah Kamel of the Dallah al Baraka Group, which owns the Jeddah al Baraka bank. The other non-Sudanese shareholder of the Khartoum al Shamal bank is Faisal Islamic Bank. Russian FSB intelligence has charged that al Baraka Bank was used by a Saudi religious charity, Al Haramain, to funnel funds to Islamic terrorists tied to al Qaida in Chechnya.

(Idem.)

19. Two different types of fascist cadres are operating in tandem in Ukraine–in addition to the OUN/B heirs such as the Pravy Sektor formations, Chechen fighters (almost certainly allied with some element of Muslim Brotherhood) are now fighting alongside them and under the Pravy Sektor administrative command.

The Chechen formations are described as “brothers” of the Islamic State.

The Boston Marathon bombing appears to have been blowback from a covert operation backing jihadists in the Caucasus.

“Ukraine Merges Nazis and Islamists” by Robert Parry; Consortium News; 7/7/2015.

In a curiously upbeat account, The New York Times reports that Islamic militants have joined with Ukraine’s far-right and neo-Nazi battalions to fight ethnic Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine. It appears that no combination of violent extremists is too wretched to celebrate as long as they’re killing Russ-kies.

The article by Andrew E. Kramer reports that there are now three Islamic battalions “deployed to the hottest zones,” such as around the port city of Mariupol. One of the battalions is headed by a former Chechen warlord who goes by the name “Muslim,” Kramer wrote, adding:

“The Chechen commands the Sheikh Mansur group, named for an 18th-century Chechen resistance figure. It is subordinate to the nationalist Right Sector, a Ukrainian militia. … Right Sector … formed during last year’s street protests in Kiev from a half-dozen fringe Ukrainian nationalist groups like White Hammer and the Trident of Stepan Bandera.

“Another, the Azov group, is openly neo-Nazi, using the ‘Wolf’s Hook’ symbol associated with the [Nazi] SS. Without addressing the issue of the Nazi symbol, the Chechen said he got along well with the nationalists because, like him, they loved their homeland and hated the Russians.”

As casually as Kramer acknowledges the key front-line role of neo-Nazis and white supremacists fighting for the U.S.-backed Kiev regime, his article does mark an aberration for the Times and the rest of the mainstream U.S. news media, which usually dismiss any mention of this Nazi taint as “Russian propaganda.” . . .

. . . . Now, the Kiev regime has added to those “forces of civilization” — resisting the Russ-kie barbarians — Islamic militants with ties to terrorism. Last September, Marcin Mamon, a reporter for the Intercept, reached a vanguard group of these Islamic fighters in Ukraine through the help of his “contact in Turkey with the Islamic State [who] had told me his ‘brothers’ were in Ukraine, and I could trust them.”

The new Times article avoids delving into the terrorist connections of these Islamist fighters. . . .

20. We present more about the Chechen/Islamic State fighters in Ukraine. Note that, as discussed in FTR #830, the Islamic State appears to be another branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. Note, also, that Georgia also was harboring Islamist fighters campaigning against Russia. We highlighted this in FTR #710.

The Daily Beast has a new piece on the Chechen Jihadists fight­ing in Ukraine after fight­ing for ISIS and how, with talk of mak­ing Right Sec­tor part of the SBU, there’s grow­ing spec­u­la­tion that a Chechen ‘vol­un­teer bat­tal­ion’ is just a mat­ter of time:

“Chechen Jihadists Join Ukraine’s Fight­ers” by Anna Nemtsova  ; The Daily Beast; 9/04/2015.

Chechen Jihadis Leave Syria, Join the Fight in Ukraine

A bat­tal­ion of fight­ers from the Cau­ca­sus is deployed on Kiev’s side in the Ukraine war. But their pres­ence may do more harm than good.

Just an hour’s drive from this city under siege, at an old resort on the Azov Sea that’s now a mil­i­tary base, mil­i­tants from Chechnya—veterans of the jihad in their own lands and, more recently, in Syria—now serve in what’s called the Sheikh Mansur Bat­tal­ion. Some of them say they have trained, at least, in the Mid­dle East with fight­ers for the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS.

Among the irreg­u­lar forces who’ve enlisted in the fight against the Russian-backed sep­a­ratists in the Don­bas region of east­ern Ukraine, few are more con­tro­ver­sial or more dan­ger­ous to the cred­i­bil­ity of the cause they say they want to serve. Russ­ian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin would love to por­tray the fight­ers he sup­ports as cru­saders against wild-eyed jihadists rather than the gov­ern­ment in Ukraine that wants to inte­grate the coun­try more closely with West­ern Europe.

Yet many Ukrain­ian patri­ots, des­per­ate to gain an edge in the fight against the Russian-backed forces, are will­ing to accept the Chechen mil­i­tants on their side.

Over the past year, dozens of Chechen fight­ers have come across Ukraine’s bor­der, some legally, some ille­gally, and con­nected in Don­bas with the Right Sec­tor, a far-right-wing mili­tia. The two groups, with two bat­tal­ions, have lit­tle in com­mon, but they share an enemy and they share this base.

The Daily Beast spoke with the Chechen mil­i­tants about their pos­si­ble sup­port for the Islamic State and its affil­i­ate in the North­ern Cau­ca­sus region of Rus­sia, which is now called the Islamic State Cau­ca­sus Emi­rate and is labeled a ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion by both Rus­sia and the United States.

The Chechen fight­ers said they were moti­vated by a chance to fight in Ukraine against the Rus­sians, whom they called “occu­piers of our coun­try, Ichk­eriya,” another term for Chechnya.

Indeed, they were upset that Ukrain­ian author­i­ties did not allow more Chechen mil­i­tants to move to Ukraine from the Mid­dle East and the moun­tains of the Cau­ca­sus. The Sheikh Mansur Bat­tal­ion, founded in Ukraine in Octo­ber 2014, “needs re-enforcement,” they said.

The man the Chechens defer to as their “emir,” or leader, is called “Mus­lim,” a com­mon fore­name in the Cau­ca­sus. He talked about how he per­son­ally crossed the Ukrain­ian bor­der last year: “It took me two days to walk across Ukraine’s bor­der, and the Ukrain­ian bor­der con­trol shot at me,” he said. He lives on this mil­i­tary base here openly enough but is frus­trated that more of his recruits can’t get through. “Three of our guys came here from Syria, 15 more are wait­ing in Turkey,” he told The Daily Beast. “They want to take my path, join our bat­tal­ion here right now, but the Ukrain­ian bor­der patrol is not let­ting them in.”

Mus­lim pulled out a piece of paper with a name of another Chechen head­ing to join the bat­tal­ion. The hand­writ­ten note said that Amayev Khavadzhi was detained on Sep­tem­ber 4, 2014, in Greece and now could be deported to Rus­sia. (Khayadzhi’s lawyer in Greece told The Daily Beast on the phone that there was a chance that his defen­dant would be trans­ferred to his fam­ily in France instead.)

“Two more of our friends have been detained, and are threat­ened with depor­ta­tion to Rus­sia, where they get locked up for life or Kady­rov kills them,” Mus­lim told The Daily Beast, refer­ring to the pro-Putin strong­man of Chech­nya, Ramzan Kadyrov.

The com­man­der pointed at a young bearded mil­i­tant next to him: “Mansur came here from Syria,” Mus­lim said. “He used ISIS as a train­ing base to improve his fight­ing skills.” Mansur stretched out his right hand, which was dis­fig­ured, he said, by a bul­let wound. Two more bul­lets were still stuck in his back, he said.

“No pho­tographs,” Mansur shook his head when a jour­nal­ist tried to take his pic­ture. Not even of his hand, not even from the back: “My reli­gion does not allow that.”

Mansur said he did not have to run across the bor­der under a hail of of bul­lets like Mus­lim. “We man­aged to reach an agree­ment with the Ukraini­ans,” he said.

The arrival of pro-Ukrainian Chechen fight­ers from abroad helped relieve some of the immi­gra­tion prob­lems of Chechens already liv­ing in Ukraine, the mil­i­tants explained.

Kady­rov had sent some of his Chechens to fight on the Russ­ian side of the con­flict last year, said Mus­lim, and as a result “there was a tem­po­rary dan­ger that Chechen fam­i­lies might be deported from Ukraine… But as soon as we started com­ing here last August, no Chechen in Ukraine had rea­sons to complain.”

Were for­mer fight­ers com­ing to Ukraine from Syria because they were dis­ap­pointed (or appalled) by the ide­ol­ogy of ISIS?

“We have been fight­ing against Rus­sia for over 400 years; today they [the Rus­sians] blow up and burn our broth­ers alive, together with chil­dren, so here in Ukraine we con­tinue to fight our war,” the com­man­der said. Many in Ukraine remem­bered the Chechen war of the mid-1990s as a war for inde­pen­dence, which briefly was given, then taken away.

Since then the war in the Cau­ca­sus has mor­phed into ter­ror­ism, killing about 1,000 civil­ians, many of them chil­dren, in a series of ter­ror attacks. And what­ever the com­mon enemy, that poses a seri­ous prob­lem for Kiev if it embraces such fighters.

“The Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment should be aware that Islamic rad­i­cals fight against democ­racy,” says Var­vara Pakhomenko, an expert at the Inter­na­tional Cri­sis Group. “Today they unite with Ukrain­ian nation­al­ists against Rus­sians, tomor­row they will be fight­ing against liberals.”

Pakhomenko says some­thing sim­i­lar hap­pened in Geor­gia in 2012 when the gov­ern­ment there found itself accused of coop­er­a­tion with Islamic rad­i­cals from Europe, Chech­nya, and the Pankisi Gorge, an eth­nic Chechen region of Georgia.

For inter­na­tional observers cov­er­ing ter­ror­ism in Rus­sia and Cau­ca­sus in the past 15 years, the pres­ence of Islamic rad­i­cals in Ukraine sounds “dis­as­trous,” mon­i­tors from the Inter­na­tional Cri­sis Group told The Daily Beast.

But many ordi­nary Ukraini­ans and offi­cials in Mar­i­upol sup­port the idea of retain­ing more Chechen mili­tia fight­ers. “They are fear­less fight­ers, ready to die for us, we love them, any­body who would pro­tect us from death,” said Galina Odnorog, a vol­un­teer sup­ply­ing equip­ment, water, food, and other items to bat­tal­ions told The Daily Beast. The pre­vi­ous night Ukrain­ian forces reported six dead Ukrain­ian sol­diers and over a dozen wounded.

“ISIS, terrorists—anybody is bet­ter than our lame lead­ers,” says local leg­isla­tive coun­cil deputy Alexan­der Yaroshenko. “I feel more com­fort­able around Mus­lim and his guys than with our mayor or governor.”

The Right Sec­tor bat­tal­ion that coop­er­ates with the Chechen mil­i­tants is a law unto itself, often out of con­trol, and tend­ing to incor­po­rate any­one it wants into its ranks. In July two peo­ple were killed and eight wounded in a gun and grenade bat­tle between police and Right Sec­tor mili­tia in west­ern Ukraine. On Mon­day, Right Sec­tor mil­i­tants trig­gered street bat­tles in the cen­ter of Kiev that left three police­men dead and over 130 wounded.

Yet the gov­ern­ment in Kiev has been con­sid­er­ing the trans­fer of the Right Sec­tor into a spe­cial unit of the SBU, Ukraine’s secu­rity ser­vice, which has made many peo­ple won­der whether the Chechen mili­tia will be join­ing the gov­ern­ment units as well. So far, nei­ther the Right Sec­tor bat­tal­ion nor the Chechen bat­tal­ion have been reg­is­tered with offi­cial forces.

In Ukraine, which is los­ing dozens of sol­diers and civil­ians every week, many things could spin out of con­trol but “it would be unimag­in­able to allow for­mer or cur­rent ISIS fight­ers to join any government-controlled or –spon­sored mil­i­tary unit,” says Paul Quinn-Judge, senior adviser for Inter­na­tional Cri­sis Group in Rus­sia and Ukraine. “It would be polit­i­cally dis­as­trous for the Poroshenko admin­is­tra­tion: No West­ern gov­ern­ment in its right mind would accept this, and it would be an enor­mous pro­pa­ganda gift for the Krem­lin. The Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment would be bet­ter served by pub­li­ciz­ing their deci­sions to turn ISIS vets back at the border.”

The Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment should be aware that Islamic rad­i­cals fight against democ­racy,” says Var­vara Pakhomenko, an expert at the Inter­na­tional Cri­sis Group. “Today they unite with Ukrain­ian nation­al­ists against Rus­sians, tomor­row they will be fight­ing against liberals.”


The Right Sec­tor bat­tal­ion that coop­er­ates with the Chechen mil­i­tants is a law unto itself, often out of con­trol, and tend­ing to incor­po­rate any­one it wants into its ranks. In July two peo­ple were killed and eight wounded in a gun and grenade bat­tle between police and Right Sec­tor mili­tia in west­ern Ukraine. On Mon­day, Right Sec­tor mil­i­tants trig­gered street bat­tles in the cen­ter of Kiev that left three police­men dead and over 130 wounded.

Yet the gov­ern­ment in Kiev has been con­sid­er­ing the trans­fer of the Right Sec­tor into a spe­cial unit of the SBU, Ukraine’s secu­rity ser­vice, which has made many peo­ple won­der whether the Chechen mili­tia will be join­ing the gov­ern­ment units as well. So far, nei­ther the Right Sec­tor bat­tal­ion nor the Chechen bat­tal­ion have been reg­is­tered with offi­cial forces.

21. The program concludes with Robert Parry’s observations about the dangers of promoting Sunni Islamist fighters in Syria. With recent Russian military moves into Syria, we wonder if this is an attempt by the Kremlin to neutralize Chechen fighters in both the Caucasus and Ukraine.

We note the use by the West and Saudi Arabia of Sunni/Muslim Brotherhood combatants as proxy warriors against Russia and Russian support for Shiite regimes in Iran and Syria as proxy defenses against the West’s combatants.

One should not mistake the fact that the Muslim Brotherhood’s corporatist economic philosophy is well regarded by the transnational corporate community. IF ISIS or the Al Qaeda-affiliated Al Nusra Front come to power in Syria, the flow of refugees will further destabilize Europe, giving a boost the neo-fascist political parties that are making hay from anti-immigrant sentiment. (We discussed this dynamic in FTR #830.)

“Madness of Blockading Syria’s Regime” by Robert Parry; Consortium News; 9/10/2015.

Does the U.S. government want the Islamic State and/or its fellow-travelers in Al Qaeda to take over Syria? As far as the State Department is concerned, that seems to be a risk worth taking as it moves to cut off Russia’s supply pipeline to the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad — even as Sunni terrorist groups expand their grip on Syrian territory.

It appears that hardliners within the Obama administration have placed the neocon goal of “regime change” in Syria ahead of the extraordinary dangers that could come from the black flag of Sunni terrorism raised over the capital of Damascus. That would likely be accompanied by the Islamic State chopping off the heads of Christians, Alawites, Shiites and other “heretics” and/or Al Qaeda having a major Mideast capital from which to plot more attacks on the West.

And, as destabilizing as the current flow of Middle East refugees is to Europe, a victory by the Islamic State or Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front would open the flood gates, sending millions of desperate people pouring out of Syria and creating a political as well as humanitarian crisis. At that point, there also would be enormous pressure on President Barack Obama or his successor to mount a full-scale invasion of Syria and attempt a bloody occupation.

The human and financial costs of this nightmare scenario are almost beyond comprehension. The European Union – already strained by mass unemployment in its southern tier — could crack apart, shattering one of the premier achievements of the post-World War II era. The United States also could undergo a final transformation from a Republic into a permanent-warrior state.

Yet, Official Washington can’t seem to stop itself. Instead of working with Russia and Shiite-ruled Iran to help stabilize the political/military situation in Syria, the pundit class and the “tough-guy/gal” politicians are unleashing torrents of insults toward the two countries that would be the West’s natural allies in any effort to prevent a Sunni terrorist takeover.

Beyond words, there has been action. Over the past week, the State Department has pressured Bulgaria and Greece to bar Russian transport flights headed to Syria. The U.S. plan seems to be to blockade the Syrian government and starve it of outside supplies, whether humanitarian or military, all the better to force its collapse and open the Damascus city gates to the Islamic State and/or Al Qaeda.

In explaining its nearly inexplicable behavior, the State Department even has adopted the silly neocon talking point which blames Assad and now Russia for creating the Islamic State, though the bloodthirsty group actually originated as “Al Qaeda in Iraq” in reaction to President George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Then, backed by money and weapons from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other U.S. “allies,” AQI moved into Syria with the goal of ousting Assad’s relatively secular government. AQI later took the name Islamic State (also known by the acronyms ISIS, ISIL or Daesh). Yet, the State Department’s official position is that the Islamic State is Assad’s and Russia’s fault.

“What we’ve said is that their [the Russians’] continued support to the Assad regime has actually fostered the growth of ISIL inside Syria and made the situation worse,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said on Tuesday. “If they want to be helpful against ISIL, the way to do it is to stop arming and assisting and supporting Bashar al-Assad.”

Yet, the reality is that Assad’s military has been the principal bulwark against both the Islamic State and the other dominant Sunni rebel force, Al Qaeda’s affiliate, the Nusra Front. So, by moving to shut down Assad’s supply line, the U.S. government is, in effect, clearing the way for an Islamic State/Al Qaeda victory since the U.S.-trained “moderate” rebels are largely a fiction, numbering in double digits, while the extremists have tens of thousands of committed fighters.

In other words, if the U.S. strategy succeeds in collapsing Assad’s defenses, there is really nothing to stop the Sunni terrorists from seizing Damascus and other major cities. Then, U.S. airstrikes on those population centers would surely kill many civilians and further radicalize the Sunnis. To oust the Islamic State and/or Al Qaeda would require a full-scale U.S. invasion, which might be inevitable but would almost certainly fail, much as Bush’s Iraq occupation did. . . .

 

 

Discussion

4 comments for “FTR #862 9/11, The Muslim Brotherhood and the Earth Island Boogie, Part 1”

  1. Regarding the potential for the ongoing Middle Eastern refugee crisis to further fuel the European far-right, with Germany and France calling for refugee quota for EU members that could force member states to take in a minimum number of refugees, an obvious question is raised: Is the refugee crisis was going to be considered an “extraordinary event” that would allow nations to temporary suspend the EU’s austerity-fetish and budget constraints while Europe absorbs hundreds of thousands of desperate people to ensure that this vital task doesn’t turn into an endless source of propaganda for Europe’s xenophobes who will be able to claim that the refugees on causing even more austerity than before? Well, if Berlin gets its way, no, there will be no suspension of the austerity madness and we should all stop asking. Wolfgang Schaeuble finds such pestering questions “almost boring”:

    Dow Jones Business News
    Germany’s Schaeuble Says Refugee Crisis No Excuse for Breaking EU Budget Rules

    By Gabriele Steinhauser
    September 12, 2015, 11:49:00 AM EDT

    LUXEMBOURG–European Union governments shouldn’t use the costs of dealing with refugees arriving in their countries as an excuse for loosening the bloc’s budget rules, Germany’s finance minister and central bank president said Saturday.

    Their comments come after EU finance ministers on Friday asked the European Commission to analyze whether spending on refugees could be considered an “extraordinary event,” and as such not count toward annual deficits.

    Under the EU’s budget rules, known as the Stability & Growth Pact, governments need to keep their deficits below 3% of gross domestic product and keep their debts at a maximum of 60% of GDP. Governments that fail to meet these goals, or don’t make enough progress toward eventually meeting them, risk sanctions.

    German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said attempts to use the refugee crisis as an excuse not to meet deficit targets were “almost boring.”

    His opposition was echoed by Jens Weidmann, president of the Bundesbank. “Using this to drill into the deficit rule would be misguided,” he said.

    Sorry everyone.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 12, 2015, 4:57 pm
  2. Germany just made a surprise move in its refugee policies and suddenly closed its border with Austria. This, in turn, caused Austria to announce it would toughen its own border controls and deploying soldiers on its border with Hungary. And in both cases it was a violation of the Schengen agreement. So that was rather ominous

    Business Insider
    Germany just reversed course with its refugee policy, and it caught Austria by surprise

    Barbara Tasch
    9/14/2015

    To everyone’s surprise, Germany announced Sunday night that the country could no longer cope with the unending flow of asylum seekers coming into the country and would reinstate border controls with Austria, Reuters reports.

    The move particularly surprised Austria, as just last week the two countries had worked together to freely let refugees enter their countries as tens of thousands have been arriving through Hungary and other Balkan countries.

    And on Monday, Austrian officials announced that the country would deploy soldiers to its border with Hungary and toughen their border controls.

    The Wall Street Journal reported that the Austrian vice chancellor, Reinhold Mitterlehner, said at a news conference in Vienna that it was a direct consequence of Germany’s decision.

    “If Germany does border controls, then Austria must also strengthen border controls — in the interest of the domestic population — and we are doing this now,” he said.

    Mitterlehner also explained that this should be a signal to the refugees that the “disorderly crossing of the border” could not take place any longer.

    Germany and Austria’s border controls go against the principle of the Schengen agreement, which guarantees free movement of goods and people among the countries that are part of the zone.

    According to an Austrian police officer who spoke to Reuters, 14,000 refugees arrived in Austria Sunday, and by mid-morning Monday about 7,000 had arrived since midnight.

    Trains between Germany and Austria have been temporarily halted as Munich’s mayor announced the city was “full.” All the refugee centers are filled to capacity and refugees had to sleep on the streets following the huge amount of people coming in.

    The move comes only a few days after Angela Merkel said there was no legal limit to the number of refugees her country would take in, and her vice chancellor said that Germany could take in 500,000 refugees each year for years to come.

    Well, so long Schengen treaty! This is, of course, a temporary measure. But it’s also a highly unusual measure and one that raises a number of question, the most obvious question being, “will Schengen survive?“:

    Quartz
    The 30-year-old agreement that symbolizes European unification is fraying at the edges

    Written by
    Annalisa Merelli
    September 13, 2015

    The Schengen agreement is almost synonymous with the European Union itself. The treaty that lets people travel between 26 of the EU’s member countries without showing any documents is, next to the euro, the single most visible day-to-day manifestation of European unity in people’s lives. And it’s coming under increasing strain.

    On Sept. 13, Germany started enforcing passport checks at its border with Austria, saying the country couldn’t host any more refugees after seeing a surge that was expected to reach some 40,000 people (paywall) over the weekend. Trains between Austria and Germany were stopped for 12 hours.

    Germany is well within its rights. As the European Commission explained in a statement, imposing border controls temporarily is “an exceptional possibility explicitly foreseen in and regulated by the Schengen Borders Code, in case of a crisis situation.” But events that can be interpreted as a “crisis” are becoming more common.

    In the summer of 2015, as the flow of refugees has swollen, various countries have threatened to suspend the Schengen treaty. In June, France temporarily did so, imposing controls at its border with Italy, leaving hundreds of refugees hoping to head north stranded. France has done this before, too: In 2011, it blocked trains from Italy carrying an unusual influx of Tunisian immigrants. There have been claims that this action, by being focused on a particular group of people, was illegal under Schengen (pdf).

    That’s no doubt why, in the wake of the 2011 incident as well as this summer, there have been calls for reforms to Schengen that would make it easier for countries to impose temporary border controls or closures. A poll in July found that majorities in several western European countries wanted the Schengen treaty scrapped. This past weekend’s heartwarming demonstrations of welcome for refugees across the continent likely represent the minority view.

    But even adding only mild restrictions on Schengen could put further pressure on the system. If one country clamps down on movement across its borders, it can increase the strain on others further upstream where refugees are arriving, causing them to panic the way Germany did this weekend. Thus reforming Schengen increases the risk that the treaty as a whole will unravel.

    This is particularly troubling in what is shaping up as arguably the worst summer ever for the European Union. It’s been only a few weeks since a last-minute agreement between Greece and its creditors prevented a “Grexit” from the euro zone. The election of Jeremy Corbyn to the head of Britain’s Labour party this weekend could, some think, increase the pressure (paywall) there for a “Brexit” from the EU. And nationalistic, anti-European tendencies are emerging in many of the member states. Could Germany’s temporary suspension of Schengen be the beginning of the treaty’s death rattle?

    “Could Germany’s temporary suspension of Schengen be the beginning of the treaty’s death rattle?”
    That’s going to be an increasingly relevant question until this issue gets resolved. And it’s not at all clear how it’s going to get resolved when, as the article points out, just a few mild tweaks to the Schengen treaty could how a dominoe effect:


    But even adding only mild restrictions on Schengen could put further pressure on the system. If one country clamps down on movement across its borders, it can increase the strain on others further upstream where refugees are arriving, causing them to panic the way Germany did this weekend. Thus reforming Schengen increases the risk that the treaty as a whole will unravel.

    And if there’s one thing we’ve learned in recent years about how the EU and eurozone functions, it’s that radical sudden changes to the system are very much a possibility. Whether it’s a Fiscal Compact treaty or the new banking union, big changes with major long-term repercussions can indeed happen when there’s a crisis in the new Europe…assuming the dominant powers want to see those reforms and enough of the second-tier governments are interested in following suit. So if there’s going to be any changes to the Schengen treaty it seems like now, when there’s an urgent crisis, would be the time we would expect to see those changes.

    At the same time, as the article below points out, one of the new EU goals is to figure out a system for redistributing 160,000 refugees from Greece, Italy, and Hungary across the EU, so if there are any Schengen treaty changes coming up, they’re presumably going to mostly involve new restrictions in exchange for taking in a refugees because a lot of countries aren’t very happy about the “share the refugees” idea

    USA Today
    German minister: EU to relocate 160K migrants from Greece, Italy, Hungary

    Kim Hjelmgaard and Jane Onyanga-Omara,
    3:35 p.m. EDT September 14, 2015

    BERLIN — European Union nations have “agreed in principle” to relocate across the continent 160,000 refugees from Italy, Greece and Hungary, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere told reporters Monday following a meeting of EU ministers.

    Meanwhile, the European Union Council reached a preliminary agreement to redistribute over the next two years 32,000 refugees from Italy and Greece, primary gateways for a flood of migrants pouring into Europe.The council hopes to raise that figure to 40,000 by December.

    “The first relocations of people in need of international protection can start quickly,” European Council president Jean Asselborn said Monday.

    The United Nations Refugee Agency estimates Europe has been flooded this year with more than 410,000 refugees and migrants fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East, Africa and Afghanistan.

    The interior and justice ministers of the 28-nation EU met in Brussels Monday as Sigmar Gabriel, Germany’s vice chancellor, warned that his country is expecting more than 1 million migrants this year, 200,000 higher that the previous estimate.

    The EU is looking for member states to contribute military ships and planes for an international operation in the Mediterranean to counter human trafficking by smugglers, the Associated Press reported. If the program is approved, the ships could seize and divert vessels that are not carrying national flags in international waters, the AP said, adding that approval could take several weeks.

    The EU wants to resettle 160,000 people across 22 member states to relieve pressure on Greece and Italy, but there is fierce opposition to the proposal from countries in central Europe, led by Hungary. Budapest wants the EU to take a much tougher line on keeping the migrants out by securing the bloc’s borders.

    The United Nations Refugee Agency has warned that without a deal, large numbers of refugees in Europe will be left in “legal limbo,” as EU nations adopt different rules for taking in an influx of people on a scale not seen in Europe since the end of World War II.

    The summit comes as train services resumed Monday between Germany and Austria after Berlin temporarily reintroduced controls on its borders to stem the flow of thousands of refugees who are making their way to Germany, which has more readily accepted applications from asylum seekers.

    Austria’s Chancellor Werner Faymann told reporters Monday that the army will help at the country’s borders if required, the Austria Press Agency reported. Vice Chancellor Reinhold Mitterlehner added: “If Germany carries out border controls, Austria must put strengthened border controls in place,” according to Reuters. “We are doing that now.”

    In Hungary on Sunday, police detained 5,809 migrants, breaking the previous one-day record of 4,330 set Saturday, the AP said. Because of a fence under construction aimed at sealing off Hungary’s border with Serbia, migrants have walked along railway tracks. But Hungarian authorities unveiled a razor-wire-topped cargo container Monday that can be used to temporarily close railway border gaps, according to the AP.

    Hungarian police moved onto a major railway crossing point Monday near the city of Roszke to stop the foot-traffic along the tracks there and hundreds of migrants were blocked, AP reported.

    “The EU wants to resettle 160,000 people across 22 member states to relieve pressure on Greece and Italy, but there is fierce opposition to the proposal from countries in central Europe, led by Hungary. Budapest wants the EU to take a much tougher line on keeping the migrants out by securing the bloc’s borders.

    So it sounds like the emerging debate or the refugee crisis response will involve calls for greater external EU border controls and possible new restrictions on the Schengen treaty in exchange for a collective refugee response. Whether or not that’s going to involve some sort of collective action in securing the EU’s external borders remains to be seen, but given the costs incurred by countries like Greece and Italy in dramatically increasing their border patrols, the question of whether or not countries will share in the cost of external EU boarder patrols is probably going to come up…a lot:

    Greek Reporter
    Greece in Danger of Having to Keep Hundreds of Thousands Refugees

    By Philip Chrysopoulos –
    Sep 14, 2015

    Greece is in danger of having to accomodate hunderds of thousands of refugees after Germany decided to temporarily suspend the Schengen Treaty.

    The Schengen agreement guarantees the right of free movement across the borders of European Union member states. However, on Sunday Germany closed its borders with Austria refusing to receive any more refugees. As a result, hundreds of thousands refugees might end up trapped in Greece and Italy, which are the main entry points to Europe.

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that, “Greece must take responsibility for the protection of the EU’s external borders, which are currently not secure.” Now Athens is forced to keep more refugees and migrants who are not likely to be forwarded to the European destination of their choice

    New Aegean Sea tragedy as 34 refugees lose their lives

    Meanwhile, a new maritime tragedy occurred on Sunday morning in the sea area off Pharmakonisi island, adding to the large number of victims of the exodus from Syria and Afghanistan.

    A wooden boat carrying an unknown number of refugees and migrants capsized off Pharmakonisi. The Hellenic Coast Guard collected the bodies of 34 people near the boat. Among the dead refugees were four babies and eleven children.

    The coast guard rescued 68 people while 29 others managed to swim to Pharmakonisi.

    Greek interim Prime Minister Vassiliki Thanou criticizes Merkel for her comments

    Greek interim Prime Minister Vassiliki Thanou criticized the comments of the German Chancellor about Greece’s alleged failure to protect its borders saying that it is hard to guard 16,000 kilometers of sea borders without the help of the EU.

    Thanou was at the island of Lesvos on Sunday inspecting the processing of refugees. She reiterated that the refugee issue is not solely a Greek problem but a European problem and called on European nations to assume their share of responsibility.

    On Tuesday, Greece will receive 33 million euros from the EU as a first tranche of funds allocated to deal with the processing of migrants.

    “Greece must take responsibility for the protection of the EU’s external borders, which are currently not secure.”
    So says Angela Merkel. Good luck Schengen treaty.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 14, 2015, 3:09 pm
  3. Serbia expressed its ‘harshest possible protest’ against Hungary today. With good reason:

    Think Progress
    Hungarian Police Are Using Tear Gas And Water Cannons On Migrants

    by Tara Culp-Ressler Sep 16, 2015 11:44am

    Some European officials are resorting to drastic measures to stem the influx of migrants attempting to seek refuge in their countries. Along Serbia’s border with Hungary, where hundreds of migrants are currently stranded after Hungary abruptly sealed its borders this week, police officers in riot gear are reportedly using tear gas and water cannons as crowd control tactics.

    Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who leads an ardently anti-immigrant government, has cited his country’s “1,000-year-old Christian culture” to explain why he doesn’t want an influx of refugees. “We Hungarians don’t want the global-sized movement of people to change Hungary,” Orban said this week, explaining that his country needs to preserve its heritage.

    One of the world’s most influential Christian leaders, however, has taken somewhat of a different approach to the current migrant crisis that’s been spurred by widespread violence and unrest in Syria and its neighboring countries. Pope Francis has asked every Catholic parish in Europe to “welcome a family of refugees,” pointing out that the Gospels call on Christians to treat other people as their neighbors. Earlier this year, when similar clashes broke out along Italy’s borders, the pontiff said that officials who shut out refugees should seek forgiveness, especially those who “close the doors on these people who are searching for family, that are searching for safety.”

    Thousands of migrants have attempted to enter Hungary over the past several days during their journey to reach European countries like Germany, where Syrians displaced by a civil war in their home country are seeking asylum. The European Union has not been able to reach consensus on how to handle the unprecedented influx of people in recent months.

    In Hungary, officials are taking matters into their own hands. On Wednesday morning, officials from Amnesty International confirmed that Syrian refugees gathering along the Hungarian border are being tear gassed. According to AFP reporters, some children are also being affected by the use of tear gas, which can cause eye irritation and respiratory problems.

    Hungarian officials, who sealed the country’s border on Tuesday by erecting a razor wire fence to keep out asylum seekers — a drastic move that’s been criticized by humanitarian groups — say they deployed riot police to deal with an unruly crowd that had become aggressive. Some people have attempted to breach the border, even though Hungary’s right-wing government has promised to arrest and deport migrants who enter the country without permission. Hungary declared a state of emergency after police said some migrants started throwing things at them.

    Over the past 24 hours, crowds of stranded migrants have been begging to be allowed to pass through Hungary, some demonstrating on the Serbian side of the border with signs and chants of Europe, Shame.” One woman along Hungary’s newly constructed fence held up a banner reading, “Mama Merkel, please help us!”

    Note that this isn’t the first time Hungarian police have fired tear gas as refugees in recent weeks.

    Also note that many refugees are now making their way into the EU via Croatia and while the Croatian government is certainly more welcoming and humane towards the refugees than its Hungarian counterpart, not all parts of Croatia are so welcoming. Specifically, the many unmarked mine fields left over from Croatia’s civil war are definitely not very welcoming.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 16, 2015, 1:08 pm
  4. A frequent observation of the current European refugee crisis is that a large number of the refugees are single young men. This is often being used as a reason to be extra wary of the refugees and followed with calls for sending them back to fight. Presumably they’re expected to fight both ISIS and Assad. But as the article below points out, in addition to over half of Syria’s refugees globally being children, the unusually high number of young men in this current wave of refugees is do to the fact that ISIS and Assad are actively trying to recruit or conscript them:

    International Business Times
    Europe Refugee Crisis Facts: Wealthy, Educated Syrians Risking Lives To Leave War

    By Jess McHugh on September 09 2015 2:13 PM EDT

    “Doctor Ali” saw the Syrian government helicopter flying near his home minutes before the barrel bomb exploded, killing his best friend and nearly claiming his own life. The death last month prompted Ali, 25, to finally flee his war-torn nation in hopes of making a safer life in Europe after four years of caring for the sick and wounded in his hometown.

    “Every day, we treated the wounded from the bombardment and dug out the dead,” recalled Ali, who was only identified by his first name, in a Human Rights Watch report published Tuesday. Like hundreds of his countrymen, he journeyed to Hungary this week to board a train for neighboring Germany, where he hoped to seek asylum.

    Thousands of people have arrived in Europe in recent months in what experts have called the worst refugee crisis since World War II. The geographic, political and economic backgrounds of the arrivals has been the subject of much confusion and debate among scholars and European citizens alike, amid growing concerns over the cost of integrating so many foreigners. Recent figures from the U.N. and other aid organizations, however, have shown that the majority of people arriving in Europe often come from upper middle class, well-educated backgrounds.

    “Similar to ourselves, they have aspirations for university, for careers,” said Paul Donohoe, spokesman for the International Rescue Committee, an international nonprofit that assists in emergency aid situations.

    Families And Children Fleeing Syria

    More than half — 53 percent — of the 380,412 people who have arrived in Europe since January are from Syria, the United Nations reported Wednesday. Syrians are different from other refugees in that they are far more likely to come from professional backgrounds than refugees originating in African countries like Eritrea, for instance, according to migration experts.

    The Syrian civil war began in 2011 after protests against the regime of President Bashar Assad turned violent and eventually spiraled into a full-blown civil conflict. The violence in Syria has only grown over the past four years, as factions splintered along increasingly sectarian lines, and the Islamic State group (ISIS) capitalized on the chaos to take over vast swathes of Iraq and Syria in an attempt to impose extremist Islamic law. Over 220,000 people have died since 2011 in Syria, and 11 million have been displaced.

    Children represent more than half of all Syrian refugees worldwide. Of those children, the majority are under 12 years old, and widely publicized images have circulated of babies as young as one-month-old crossing into Greece. At least 15 percent of the refugees that have arrived in Europe this year have been children, and 13 percent have been women, according to the United Nations.

    After Syria, the top three nations of origin for refugees were Afghanistan, accounting for 14 percent of refugees; Eritrea, accounting for 7 percent; and Nigeria, accounting for 3 percent. Refugees from these nations were far more likely to come from agrarian backgrounds than Syrians.

    Daily threats of violence and limited economic opportunities are not the only factors driving millions out of Syria. The crisis’ escalation has resulted in the need for more aggressive conscription and recruitment, factoring into the huge drain of young men leaving Syria.

    “We have certainly dealt with young men who were fleeing recruitment by ISIS, as well as by the government and any number of the insurgent groups,” said Judith Sunderland of the nonprofit Human Rights Watch.

    Smart Phones And Refugee Camps

    Donohoe said many of the refugees living in camps in Lesbos, Greece — one of the most popular arrival points for refugees and migrants — had smartphones. At least a few people could speak English on every boat arriving to Lesbos, meaning that many of them likely had a formal education or came from an upper middle-class background, he said.

    Doctors, bankers and Syrians from other high-paying professions have been among the arrivals. Several of the refugees interviewed by the International Business Times had university educations, and one pair of brothers had worked in investment banking in Syria and were looking to do the same in Europe.

    On the eve of the civil war in early 2011, Syrian GDP per capita was as high as $5,000, more than double what it was in neighboring Pakistan and Yemen, and five times as much as the average GDP per capita in Afghanistan. By 2013, Syria’s GDP dropped by 20.6 percent. World Bank authorities have not been able to collect economic data in Syria since 2014 because of the chaos in the region, and experts estimate that the GDP has continued to plummet.

    There’s nothing that drives a mass exodus quite like aggressive conscription and recruitment drives by ISIS and Assad:


    Daily threats of violence and limited economic opportunities are not the only factors driving millions out of Syria. The crisis’ escalation has resulted in the need for more aggressive conscription and recruitment, factoring into the huge drain of young men leaving Syria.

    “We have certainly dealt with young men who were fleeing recruitment by ISIS, as well as by the government and any number of the insurgent groups,” said Judith Sunderland of the nonprofit Human Rights Watch.

    Of course, as the article below points out, another key reason for the large numbers of young men among this latest wave of refugees is due to the fact that it’s an incredibly dangerous journey and, as such, a number of families are sending the fathers on the quest for a safe haven before the rest of the family joins them. It just makes sense unless you want more children drowning and dodging land mines.

    So there’s probably going to be quite a few more waves of refugees flowing out of Syria and they’re probably going to be making their way to Europe because, as the article below also points out, the existing aid effort has failed to provide anything more than basic subsistence to the refugees who have already fled the conflict into Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq and it is unrealistic and inhumane to expect them to put their lives on hold in a war zone or dysfunctional refugee camp indefinitely:

    The Washington Post
    ‘Syria is emptying’

    By Liz Sly September 14 at 8:22 PM

    IZMIR, Turkey — A new exodus of Syrians is fueling the extraordinary flow of migrants and refugees to Europe, as Syria’s four-year-old war becomes the driving force behind the greatest migration of people to the continent since the Second World War.

    Syrians account for half of the 381,000 refugees and migrants who have sought asylum in Europe so far this year, which is in turn almost a doubling of the number in 2014 — making Syrians the main component of the influx.

    The continued surge through Europe prompted Hungary, Austria and Slovakia to tighten border controls Monday, a day after Germany projected that in excess of a million people could arrive by year’s end and began to impose restrictions on those entering the country.

    How many more Syrians could be on the way is impossible to know, but as the flow continues, their number is rising. According to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, 78 percent of those who washed up on inflatable dinghies on the beaches of Greece in July were Syrian, the latest month for which figures are available..

    Some were already among the 4 million refugees who have sought sanctuary in neighboring countries, but many also are coming from inside Syria, constituting what Melissa Fleming of the UNHCR called a “new exodus” from the ravaged country. They are bypassing the refugee camps and heading straight for Europe, as the fallout from a war President Obama once called “someone else’s civil war” spills far beyond Syria’s borders.

    More are on the way. Syrians are piled up on the streets of the Turkish port city of Izmir waiting for a place on one of the flimsy boats that will ferry them across the sea to Greece, and they say they have friends and family following behind.

    “Everyone I know is leaving,” said Mohammed, 30, who climbed three mountains to make his way across the Turkish border from the city of Aleppo with his pregnant wife, under fire from Turkish border guards. “It is as though all of Syria is emptying.”

    Analysts say it was inevitable it would come to this, that Syrians would eventually tire of waiting for a war of such exceptional brutality to end. At least 250,000 have been killed in four ferocious years of fighting, by chemical weapons, ballistic missiles and the barrel bombings by government warplanes that are the biggest single killer of civilians, according to human rights groups.

    Men on both sides die in the endless battles between the government and rebels for towns, villages and military bases that produce no clear victory. The Islamic State kills people in the areas it controls with beheadings and other brutal punishments. The United States is leading a bombing campaign against the Islamic State but has shown scant interest in solving the wider Syrian war, which seems destined to only escalate further with the deepening involvement of Russian troops.

    “It should surprise no one. Hopelessness abounds,” said Fred Hof, a former State Department official who is now with the Atlantic Council. “Why would any Syrian with an option to leave and the physical ability to do so elect to stay?”

    There are other nationalities, too; refugees from conflict zones such as Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia, alongside a small number of economic migrants from countries that include Bangladesh, Pakistan and Senegal.

    But overwhelmingly this is a crisis of people fleeing war, and above all, the one in Syria, Fleming said.

    “In the absence of the Syrians coming in the numbers they are coming, there wouldn’t be this huge surge in numbers,” she said. “This is why we are calling it a refugee crisis, not a migrant crisis.”

    The exodus speaks in part to the deficiency of the underfunded aid effort, which has failed to provide anything more than basic subsistence to the refugees who have already fled the conflict into Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq.

    Since the flow of refugees first began in 2012, U.N. officials have repeatedly warned of the consequences of neglecting the refugee crisis, Fleming said.

    “This was something Syrians felt they could tolerate for a certain amount of time because they hoped they could go home,” she said. “But with that hope becoming dimmer and dimmer and conditions becoming even harder, no one should question or be amazed at the large numbers of Syrians risking their lives to get to Europe.”

    Interviews with the Syrians crowding into Izmir to make the sea crossing from Turkey to Greece suggest that just as many are arriving from inside Syria.

    They come from every corner of Syria, but mainly the government and rebel-held areas that are more densely populated and more fiercely contested than the desert territories held by the Islamic State.

    Their sad stories track the tides of a war that has been largely ignored by the outside world.

    Ramadan Mohammed, 53, a widower who lost his leg in shelling in Aleppo in 2012, spends his days on a blanket on the street, waiting for another chance to board a boat after multiple failed attempts. It isn’t easy to climb into a flimsy dinghy with only one leg, he said, and if it sinks, as many do, he won’t be able to swim.

    But he grew despondent living alone in a tent in a refugee camp in Lebanon, and he hopes he will be able to find a job in Europe.

    Mohammed Hassan, 33, fled to a refugee camp in Lebanon from the town of Yabroud outside Damascus after Hezbollah fighters captured it from rebels in 2014. He said he could no longer bear watching his three children grow up without going to school, and he plans to bring them to Europe after he has settled there.

    “My wife wants me to go so that the children can get an education,” he said.

    Most making the journey are men, in part because families prefer to send their fathers and sons on the dangerous trek, to send later for their relatives after they have secured legal residency, Fleming said.

    But many are young and single, escaping a war they might otherwise have to fight.

    Saleh, 24, and his friend Abdul-Qader, 27, were soldiers in the Syrian army until rebels overran their checkpoint in the province of Idlib last year. They managed to get away but felt betrayed by their government’s failure to send reinforcements or supplies to their besieged post.

    “We were with the regime, but when they didn’t come to defend us, we decided to desert,” Saleh said. The pair have been on the run since, finding occasional work, and now have saved enough for the trip.

    Syria’s bitterly divisive politics are mostly forgotten in the dash to get to Europe.

    “Syrians are disgusted by politics,” said a 24-year-old man who left Damascus last week and hopes to resume his law studies in Germany. He fought briefly with a government militia in 2013 and decided to leave Syria after he was summoned last month to join the army, part of a new, countrywide call-up of reservists that has contributed large numbers of young men from government-held areas to this latest exodus from Syria.

    “I would have had to serve the regime and participate in killing civilians,” said the man, who asked to be identified only by his first name, Bashir. “Most Syrians are now convinced the war is pointless. We don’t know who is winning, and they are all just killing each other.”

    Lying on a mat nearby was a group of men who had fought with the rebels and had traveled from the southern province of Daraa, the birthplace of the 2011 revolt that sparked the war that triggered the refugee crisis. Their 500-mile journey, an eight-day trek across the length of Syria and many of its front lines, guided by Bedouin smugglers, was more hazardous than any challenge they may encounter in Europe.

    “I would have had to serve the regime and participate in killing civilians…Most Syrians are now convinced the war is pointless. We don’t know who is winning, and they are all just killing each other.”
    That sense of despair in the face of a “kill or be killed” reality is something that’s going to be increasingly important to keep in mind.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 16, 2015, 5:05 pm

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