London bombing shows danger of Islamification in Britain and Europe. Is the US next?

Julienne Davis

The terrorist bombing Friday of a train on the London Underground, which injured 30 people – including one of my very close friends – was yet more evidence of a painful truth: the Islamification of the United Kingdom and Europe is well under way, changing the very character of the continent that gave birth to Western Civilization.

To escape this disturbing transformation of Britain – a place I had come to love after spending much of my adult life there, even becoming a dual British-U.S. citizen in 2000 – my English husband and I moved back to America at the end of 2006. I felt like a bit of a coward, but I did not want to live in an England changing dramatically for the worse before my eyes.

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Yet now I fear that the United States will be next in line to see our wonderful traditions of freedom, tolerance, respect for human rights and the rule of law threatened by the regressive and oppressive ideology of Islamic fundamentalism.

Friday’s terrorist attack in London brought these fears to the front of my mind, especially after my friend nearly lost her life when the bomb partially detonated in the train car she was riding in. The Islamic State, also known as ISIS, claimed responsibility for the bombing.

My friend told me she heard the bomb go off 30 feet away, looked in the direction of the sound and saw a huge fireball coming towards her. Her skin is burned, she no longer has eyebrows and eyelashes, and her hair and clothes were singed as well. She will recover. But if the bomb had detonated properly, I would be preparing now to attend her funeral.

My husband and I saw Britain changing before our eyes. The final straw was during the 2006 Danish Embassy Muhammad cartoon protest, when hundreds of Islamists holding signs like “Behead Infidels” and “Prepare for a New Holocaust,” marched unopposed to the Danish Embassy in London.

The bombing was the fifth terrorist attack in Britain this year but the first on London’s mass transit system since bombings on three trains and a bus on July 7, 2005 that killed 52 people and wounded over 700. I remember the day clearly – people dazed, frightened and with blood on their shirts coming out of the tube.

Is this what awaits us in the U.S. five or 10 years from now? Rather than flee again, I feel the need to speak out before it is too late.

Let me be clear: In a free land, everyone should be free to follow the religion of his or her choice. But sadly, fundamentalist Islam does not allow other theologies to coexist.

Islamism, as the Brookings Institution describes it, is based on the belief that “Islamic law or Islamic values should play a central role in public life. They (Islamists) feel Islam has things to say about how politics should be conducted, how the law should be applied, and how other people – not just themselves – should conduct themselves.”

Islamification is the imposition of an Islamist social and political system onto a society – depriving individuals (particularly women) of their freedoms and making even nations where Muslims are in the minority change their way of life to be more aligned with Islamic fundamentalism.

This has nothing in common with the pluralistic and polytheist society I grew up in living in the U.S. or that I found in England years ago.

Tragically, things are only going to get worse – much worse – in Europe. The British and European Union governments are no longer looking after their people and are willfully allowing the destruction of their culture and free societies. They have utterly failed their citizens.

An English friend told me recently that her daughter’s Church of England village school was teaching what they call RE (Religious Education) to the children and spending an inordinate amount of time and positively favoring Islam over other religions. Children of all faiths are now being taught how to pray to Allah with prayer mats.

The Koran is the only book open on a stand at the back of the classroom. And at a school assembly when the prophet Muhammad was mentioned, 200 children chanted in unison:  “Peace be upon him.”

I was speechless when I heard this. But I am continually shocked at the news coming out of Britain – a country that is my second home and one I love so very much.

My husband and I saw Britain changing before our eyes. The final straw for my husband and I was during the 2006 Danish Embassy Muhammad cartoon protest, when hundreds of Islamists holding signs like “Behead Infidels” and “Prepare for a New Holocaust,” marched unopposed to the Danish Embassy in London.

The only person arrested that day was an Englishman who jeered at the Islamists. Upon seeing that, my husband turned to me and painfully admitted with tears in his eyes, “England is finished. I guess I’d rather be a stranger in a strange land, than a stranger in my own land.”  We left England when his U.S. green card came through.

Since then, we have heard about many more incidents happening in the United Kingdom from friends who live there – not just in the news.

There was the nail bomb attack at a pop concert; Islamists shouting “Allahu Akbar” as they stabbed and drove into people on deadly rampages; and the beheading of a British soldier in the streets of London in broad daylight.

In addition, many churches are being converted to mosques with minarets and are now broadcasting calls to prayer; Muslim rapists have targeted underage English girls; and the insidious Islamist indoctrination of children in schools is becoming more common.

How do you irreparably change a country? By targeting and indoctrinating its children.

On top of this, the United Kingdom’s flawed immigration policies and laws have enabling a rapid rise in the Muslim population to more than 3.5 million, equalling 5.5 percent of the nation in 2016, according to the Gatestone Institute International Policy Council.

The institute reports that a survey found that 23 percent of British Muslims advocate replacement of British law with Islamic law in areas with large Muslim populations. And the same survey estimates that “more than 100,000 British Muslims sympathize with suicide bombers.”

Many of us in the U.S. may hear of these incidences and are horrified. But we are relived that at least none of this is happening over here.

But what is going on in Britain and Europe is both a warning and a precursor to what could very well happen here if we don’t take heed. Furthermore, allowing the Islamists in America to change our laws, ethics and customs to suit or cater to only their beliefs at the expense of others is a slippery slope.

I am glad I returned to the United States. At the time of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on our country my patriotism welled up in me like a tidal wave and only grew. And I became appalled by the anti-American and pro-Islamist rhetoric that was going on in the leftist British media and among friends and acquaintances there.

Everyone who lives in the United States is lucky and blessed to be here. While we will continue to welcome people here from around the world, we need to be careful to not change the very character of our nation by opening the floodgates to people determined to recast our country into the image of another culture.

Julienne Davis is an American actress, singer and model.

Courtesy, Fox News

‘Saudis shoot themselves in the foot bringing Qatar, Yemen, Syria & Iraq closer to Iran’

'Saudis shoot themselves in the foot bringing Qatar, Yemen, Syria & Iraq closer to Iran'
The Saudi regime has become so erratic that it turned against Qatar, one of the few regimes that have an identical ideology, and therefore brought Qatar closer to Iran, says professor of politics at Tehran University Seyed Mohammad Marandi.

Saudi Arabia has decided to suspend all dialogue with Qatar after Qatari media was accused of misreporting on phone conversations between the Emir of Qatar and Saudi Arabia’s defense minister.

Previously, US President Donald Trump urged the Gulf States to unite against Iran and expressed his willingness to act as a mediator between Doha and Riyadh.

However, in June, Trump alleged that Qatar was a sponsor of terrorism when Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, and the UAE first cut diplomatic and transport links with the Gulf nation.

RT: President Trump claims that the Qatar crisis is easy to solve. Why is it so hard to get the sides – Qatar and Saudi Arabia – to the negotiating table?

Seyed Mohammad Marandi: I think the most important problem is the Saud family itself and Mohammad bin Salman in particular. He is very young, he was born a billionaire. He has yes men surrounding him. He has created a mess, not just in his relationship with Qatar that we see this problem. He invaded Yemen. He has been killing the Yemeni people. His air force has been bombing hospitals, funerals, weddings, schools, and innocent civilians for almost three years now with Western support, with the US support both under Obama and Trump. And to no avail; he has lost the war effectively. He has been spreading Wahhabi extremism – he, his father, and the regime before his father have been spreading extremism n Syria, in Iraq, and across the world. Wahhabism is something the Saudis export.

What is extraordinary is that the Saudi regime has become so erratic and unpredictable that now it has turned against one of the few regimes that has an identical ideology… Qatar and Saudi Arabia are the two countries that explicitly declare themselves to be Wahhabi… It is not just an issue of sectarianism, the Saudis are even turning against Wahhabis like themselves. I don’t think the US will have an easy task in bringing these countries together. And even if they do, I don’t think the Qataris are going to trust the Saudis in the future. And Trump himself is not considered to be a very reliable partner, as the Republican Party has just discovered themselves.

The present dispute between Qatar and Saudi Arabia and the UAE is difficult to understand because it seems to be totally artificial, it doesn’t seem to have any reality behind it at all. As for President Trump’s offer to mediate, don’t forget he was asked at a press conference after the formal statements have been made, by journalists, whether he supported Kuwaiti mediation. And he said, “Yes, we do support Kuwaiti mediation.” And then he couldn’t resist adding, “I would be very ready to mediate myself if that would be useful.” I am not surprised that he said that. Maybe it is helpful. Any world leader might have said the same thing.– Oliver Miles, former UK ambassador to Libya

RT: The crisis boils down to Qatar’s alleged terrorist links with Iran. Are there any new developments on that front?

SMM: The Iranian-Qatari relationship has never been severed despite the Saudi pressure. And in fact, the Saudis have failed to disrupt the relationship between Iran and other countries, such as Oman. The Saudis, on the other hand, are putting enormous pressure on Kuwait to distance itself from Iran. But in the case of Qatar, I think it backfired. They went way too far by trying to humiliate the country and take away its sovereignty. The Qataris, which were blockaded not only by Saudi Arabia but its allies like the UAE and Bahrain from the land and the sea and air… they were preventing food from getting in. And the only way forward for Qatar was to turn to Iran. And of course, the Iranians felt that they had an obligation to support the Qataris. And this is something that the Saudis have been doing for a long time: the Iranian relationship with the people of Yemen has evolved, improved, and they have grown closer to each other because of the Saudi invasion of the country. The same is true with what the Saudis and their allies did in Syria and Iraq: they basically brought these countries closer to Iran because these countries saw the Saudis’ Wahhabi extremist ideology, which Al-Qaeda and ISIS and Boko Haram are linked to, as a threat to their existence, and they moved to Iran which they saw as a very reliable partner. That is, basically, the Saudis who have been shooting themselves in the foot time after time.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

Courtesy, RT

Hezbollah co-leader: US nurtured ISIS monster against Syrian govt, now has to fight them

The US had to step back from its policy of regime change in Syria after multiple failures, as the jihadists they allegedly hoped to use as a proxy began posing a threat, Hezbollah’s Deputy Secretary General, Sheikh Naim Qassem argued in an interview to RT.

For an exclusive interview with RT’s Eisa Ali, one of the most senior Hezbollah leaders agreed to meet –with the toughest security precautions in place – in a clandestine location in Beirut. Qassem told RT he believes US President Donald Trump has opted for a less confrontational approach in Syria of late after previous attempts to oust the Syrian government proved futile.

“When they failed by using the military option, or by using the opposition option, or by using their cooperation with the regional Arabic countries that wanted change in Syria in favor of Israel, America adopted a new non-confrontation policy with President [Bashar] Assad because of their inability to do more, and because they know that [Islamic State] is against them as much as they are against the Syrian people,” Kassem claimed.

READ MORE: No role for West & allies in Syria until they cut support to terrorists – Assad

He noted, however, that a perceived change in political strategy does not mean that the White House has reversed its opinion of Assad, arguing that the US has been left with no better option than to fight the “monster” of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) which they helped to create in the first place but which has “now shifted against them.” 

‘We’ll respect any choice made by the Syrian people’

Speaking of Syrian President Bashar Assad, and Hezbollah’s view on his role as the country’s head of state, Qassem said that the group regards Assad as the legitimate ruler of Syria, re-elected by the people to serve as the country’s leader.

Arguing that the main interest of the US in the war was to “remove President Assad from power and change Syria’s stance from resistance to American-Israeli friendly,” he praised Assad for being an effective leader, guiding his country through difficult times of war.
However, he went on to stress that the Syrian President’s fate lies exclusively in the hands of the Syrian people.

We are with the Syrian people’s choice and when it is election time and Syria’s choice will be made without external intervention, we will respect any choice made by the Syrian people.”

Qassem said there is an “effective” cooperation between the Syrian and Russian armed forces, Iran and Hezbollah, which has contributed greatly to Syria’s driving jihadists out of swathes of its territory.

‘Israel plays part in Syria’s destruction’

Accusing Israel of fuelling the protracted Syrian conflict, Qassem in particular pointed to the Jewish state’s reported support of armed opposition groups fighting the Syrian forces and affiliated militias in the south-western Syrian city of Daraa and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

“Israel plays the main part in Syria’s destruction, and it is an important supporter of the armed opposition, especially in the southern part of Syria,” Kassem said.

Qassem further claimed that over 3000 militants fighting the Syrian government have received treatment in Israeli hospitals, adding that there have been reports of cross-border supplies of munitions and food from Israel to Syria.

A US-Russian ceasefire agreement for south-western Syria dealt a blow to Israel’s alleged aspirations as it did not include removing Hezbollah from its positions in the border area, Qassem argued. Shortly after the deal was agreed in July, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denounced the plan, saying it might strengthen Iranian influence in the country.

Criticism was levelled at Hezbollah in late August for allowing the evacuation of some 300 Islamic State terrorists and roughly as many family members from the Qalamoun Mountains to the eastern province of Deir al-Zor as part of the deal to return bodies of eight slain Hezbollah fighters. Qassem justified the controversial move by saying that the group did not know whether the fighters were alive or dead and that it was “an important chance that could not be [used] again.”

READ MORE: ‘Lines agreed to’ with Russia for final push against ISIS in Syria – US general

The deal sparked outrage, with critics slamming the group for negotiating with terrorists. After the deal was struck and the militants departed to Deir ez-Zor, the US-led international coalition shelled the road to impede relocations of militants and their family members and struck some of the vehicles and fighters it “clearly identified as ISIS.” In a statement following the attack, the coalition said it “was not a party to any agreement” negotiated between Lebanon, ISIS and Hezbollah and considered the moving of terrorists from one part of the country to another “not a lasting solution.”

Since the beginning of the Syrian conflict six years ago, Hezbollah has been embroiled in fighting IS and Al-Nusra Front terrorists in Syria in cooperation with government forces. The group, which is listed as a terrorist entity in the West and in most of the Arab League countries, has been repeatedly targeted by Israeli airstrikes on Syrian soil.

Courtesy, RT

‘Islamic State’ convoy stranded with families in Syria desert

Lebanon’s Hezbollah said US-warplanes were preventing both the advance of a convoy of ‘IS’ fighters and their families, and humanitarian aid. The US-coalition refused to accept the terms of the deal made with Syria.

A convoy of buses prepare to evacuate Islamic State militants and their families from QaraA convoy of buses prepare to evacuate “Islamic State” militants and their families from Qara

Lebanon’s Shiite militant group Hezbollah said in a statement on Saturday that it and the Syrian army had fulfilled their obligations by safely transporting the convoy of IS fighters and their families out of Syrian government territory. But it said that US warplanes were preventing the convoy from reaching its destination in IS-held territory.

The 17-bus convoy had been stranded in the Syrian desert, the US-led coalition against the militant group said in a statement circulated on Saturday.

“The coalition has not struck the convoy. In accordance with the law of armed conflict, the coalition has struck ISIS fighters and vehicles, including a tank, armed technical vehicles and transport vehicles seeking to facilitate the movement of ISIS fighters to the border area of our Iraqi partners,” the coalition said in a statement.

Read more: Hezbollah’s new ‘power’ threatens Israel

As part of an agreement between the Syrian government and Hezbollah, IS fighters were transferred from areas near the Lebanese-Syrian border to the group’s stronghold near the Iraqi border.

Later on Saturday, Hezbollah claimed the warplanes prevented humanitarian aid reaching the buses and called on the interantional community to intervene to prevent what it called a massacre. Six of the buses had remained in Syrian government areas, the group reported.

Shuttling a ‘global threat’

The US-led coalition and Iraqi authorities said they would not accept the terms of the deal for the IS fighters and their families to move. They have asked Russian authorities to communicate to the Syrian government that the coalition will not accept such maneuvers.

“The coalition and our Iraqi partners were not a party to the agreement … to allow these experienced fighters to transit territory under the Syrian regime control to the Iraqi border,” the statement said.

“ISIS is a global threat; relocating terrorists from one place to another for someone else to deal with is not a lasting solution.”

Map showing active armed groups in Iraq and Syria

Making gains

Backed by the US-led coalition, Iraq has made significant gains against the militant group over the past two months. It has dislodged the “Islamic State” militant group from Mosul and Tal Afar, a former transit hub along the group’s strategic supply line between Syria and Iraq.

Read more: Who is the ‘Islamic State’ leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi?

The “Islamic State” rose to notoriety in 2014, when it launched a blitzkrieg campaign across Syria and Iraq, culminating in the occupation of Mosul and nearly one-third of Iraqi territory.

Iraq-led forces have managed to reclaim more than 90 percent of the territory captured by the militant group.

ls/jm (Reuters, AP)

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Why the battle against ISIS in Iraq’s Tal Afar is ‘many times worse’ than Mosul

Why the battle against ISIS in Iraq's Tal Afar is ‘many times worse’ than Mosul
The Iraqi military is engaged in fierce fighting against Islamic State militants in the Tal Afar district, where terrorists have fled from the city itself and remain holed up in the town of al-Ayadiya. As the operation enters its final stage, RT looks at what is making it so difficult.

“The gates of hell” is what Iraqi Colonel Kareem al-Lami calls the battle now facing Iraqi troops near Tal Afar, according to Reuters.

US-backed Iraqi troops lauded the almost complete liberation of the strategic town of Tal Afar, held for three years by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), on August 27 after a week-long operation. However, the forces are currently struggling to defeat the terrorists in the small town of al-Ayadiya a few miles north of Tal Afar, where the remaining militants continue to resist.

This last step towards the liberation of the district is even tougher than the battle for Mosul, located some 60km to the east, Colonel al-Lami says. That operation took eight months and was finished in June.

“We thought the battle for Mosul’s Old City was tough, but this one proved to be multiple times worst,” al-Lami told Reuters on Wednesday.

Diehard militants with nothing to lose

Hundreds of militants are reportedly holding the ground in al-Ayadiya. Their exact numbers remain unclear, and they are apparently some of the toughest fighters that IS has.

“Our intelligence shows that the most diehard Daesh [IS] fighters fled Tal Afar to al-Ayadiya,” Lieutenant Colonel Salah Kareem said, as cited by Reuters. “We are facing tough fighters who have nothing to lose and are ready to die.”

Those terrorists who don’t stand and fight attempt to flee the battle zone by hiding among displaced civilians on the run. At least 200 militants were found during security checks of 2,000 refugees, Iraqi news reports, citing the Kurdish Peshmerga, which is also fighting against IS in the area.  Kurdish forces also killed 130 more militants on the way to Syria, Iraqi news reported on Tuesday.

Ruins filled with explosives

During their retreat from the city, IS terrorists left behind deadly traps that have turned Tal Afar “into a sappers’ nightmare” as explosives could be hidden anywhere, RT correspondent Murad Gazdiev reported from the ground.

The Iraqi military told RT it had found such ‘surprises’ in the most unexpected places. Troops continue to find wires everywhere and dare not touch anything.

“One of our officers went into a house and sat on a sofa. It exploded, along with half of the house,” an Iraqi commander said. “They booby-trapped the sofa.”

“Another example: there were explosives in the light switches. If you turn the light on, it explodes. There were bombs in refrigerators and even in door handles.”

Some houses packed with explosives will have to be destroyed while the military does its best to clear the area. Meanwhile, many houses have already been reduced to rubble and there are no civilians in the suburbs of the city, where an RT crew was allowed to enter.

Civilians caught in the crossfire, used as human shields

At the beginning of the battle for Tal Afar around 40,000 civilians remained trapped in the city and its neighboring areas, according to the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), which is providing aid there. The US-led coalition estimated that between 10,000 and 50,000 civilians remained in and around Tal Afar as of August 20.

Thousands of people, trapped in a warzone, faced a grim choice.

“Being used as human shields by ISIS, risk being killed in a coalition airstrike or make a run for it, brave the crossfire, the desert and the merciless heat in the hope that you get out,” RT correspondent Gazdiev reported from the area.

Their plight was highlighted by the UN.

“Iraqi civilians are likely to be held as human shields again and that attempts to flee could result in executions or shootings,”said Andrej Mahecic, spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

To have a hope of escaping Tal Afar, civilians had to move at night not to be caught by IS terrorists. The terrorists took men from the families trying to flee, according to Oxfam, which spoke to the civilians at a screening site in Badush, around 60km east of the city.
The journey, in scorching heat and in constant fear of airstrikes, was a horror in itself.

“The road was steep and rocky, and old people were dying. It was so hard to walk and the road smelled of dead bodies. I lost my voice because I was shouting at my children to stay with me. They were so scared,” Ahlam Ibrahim, who fled the village of Mzra’a near Tal Afar, said, as cited by Oxfam.

“We saw a lot of people killed; that’s why we were so afraid. We are worried they will kill my husband. My son won’t stop crying because ISIS took his father and we don’t know where he is,” a woman from Mzra’a said.

Under-supplied camps & refugees with nowhere to go

Over 30,000 people have fled the Tal Afar area since April, 14,000 of them since the start of the military operation there, according to the NRC. Those who have managed to flee are waiting for it to be safe to return home, but some fear that there is nothing to return to.

“We can’t go back unless the government allows us to – a lot of homes are booby-trapped and there are IED [improvised explosive devices] and mines everywhere,” the NRC cited Mehmoud Mustafa, a refugee from Tal Afar, as saying.

“There are almost no services where we come from, and no food and water and things that we need to get by,” Sami from Tal Afar told the organization.

“We also need to be allowed to return to our homes by the government and military forces. So we will go back when I have enough money and something to go back to. Now we have nothing left of our properties,” he added.

Meanwhile, displaced people trapped in refugee camps suffer from a lack of water, food, electricity, medicine and medical assistance. People in the Umm al-Jarabeeh camp told RT’s video agency Ruptly they are desperate to escape the dire conditions and return to their homes.

“There is no electricity, the floor is soil and the roof is nylon, as if we are pickles in a bag,” one resident, Ahmed Ali, told Ruptly last week.

“There are [water] tanks which come here but they distribute only four tanks of 20 liters for 11 people. What can we do with this amount of water? Shall we drink it or use it for washing? Or shall we use it for cooking? It is not enough for the family,” he said, adding that the water the refugees get is contaminated.

People at another camp, the ‘Western Axis Camp,’ located west of Tal Afar, which accommodates more than 1,500 families, also said that the facility lacks the necessary supplies while the authorities care little about them.

“We are hungry. We need bread, aid. We need clothes, water. Yesterday we got contaminated water, even animals won’t drink it. We are living in tough times. No authorities are checking how we are doing. No mercy. We need a solution. We are in such a bad state. Everything is scarce. Even bread,” said Tal Afar refugee Ghaz Ghashman Hassan.

Another refugee, Abu Abdallah, called on the authorities to deal with the shortage of medicines.

“The nearest access would be 100km away, and doctors there may or may not come,” he added.

Some said that they would prefer to go back to their ruined homes than sit with no aid in the heat.

“We urge the Iraqi government to liberate Tal Afar so that we can return to our villages and homes. Our children are disabled, it is hot, we sit here with no aid,” Azeez Omar Mohamed told Ruptly.

The rebuilding cannot even start yet, and when it does, it will take years.

“It will take a long time and a lot of resources to rebuild the cities, towns and villages that have been damaged and destroyed by this conflict. People cannot even begin this process unless they are safe. Once they are, people must be free to move when and where they choose so they can start the journey of rebuilding,”NRC country director Heidi Diedrich said.

Courtesy, RT

Trump’s Afghanistan plan: Can it actually work?

Trump acknowledges flip-flop on Afghanistan
Trump acknowledges flip-flop on Afghanistan 00:45

(CNN)On Monday night, President Donald Trump unveiled his new strategy for American involvement in Afghanistan — a country that has been the stage for a seemingly unwinnable war for 16 years.

There was not much in terms of specifics, though Trump did reveal that more US troops would be deployed and the military would have more freedom to fight America’s opponents as it sees fit. He also singled out Pakistan as part of the problem — implying that unless the Pakistanis stopped providing safety for terrorists, they might lose financial aid from the United States.
Perhaps the most significant revelation was Trump’s desire to find a political solution to end the war — one that includes bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table.

What’s new in Trump’s plan?

Trump’s Afghanistan plan
  • Five key pillars of Trump’s plan
  • OPINION: The view from Islamabad
The new plan for American engagement in Afghanistan that Trump announced is — until he puts more meat on the bones — the same old plan, only with less accountability to Washington.
Yes, Trump more publicly called out Pakistan as being part of the problem. But he failed to lay out any serious detail, making it hard to see exactly now this plan differs from existing US policy and how it will succeed where the old one failed.
On the other hand, the lack of clarity may keep the enemy guessing: no drawdown dates, no troop numbers, only the threat that the enemy cannot win on the battlefield.

How realistic is it?

Trump said: “Someday after an effective military effort, perhaps it will be possible to have a political settlement that includes elements of the Taliban in Afghanistan.”
A political solution to the fight with the Taliban is the only realistic way for US forces to leave Afghanistan and not give a free hand to al Qaeda and ISIS. In acknowledging this, it is clear that Trump is now listening to the advice of his generals.
If you listened carefully, you’ll have noticed that Trump differentiated between his enemies. This is key to leaving the door open for a political deal with the Taliban. He said that his objectives are to “obliterate ISIS,” “crush al Qaeda” and “prevent the Taliban from taking over Afghanistan.”
The Taliban have responded by seemingly leaving the door open for talks. They couched their threat to keep fighting the United States by saying, “If the US keeps following a war strategy, we will keep fighting them.” That careful use of the word “if” may come to be incredibly important.

Will the tough talk on Pakistan work?

Pakistan fears that India would like Afghanistan to become a client state on the Pakistani border.
Pakistan has long supported the Afghan Taliban to prevent this from happening and as a result has a controlling influence in the Afghan government.
Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, the Taliban have complained that Pakistan has prevented their efforts at negotiating peace on their own terms.
Trump’s demand that Pakistan stop offering a haven to criminals, terrorists and other groups is not new.
Trump: US in Afghanistan to kill terrorists
Trump: US in Afghanistan to kill terrorists 00:54
But when the United States has previously blamed Pakistan for supporting the Taliban — and in particular the Haqqani network — it has not worked out so well: Vital US troop resupply routes that run through Pakistan have been shut down, local tribes have protested and the government has closed the border.
In such situations, the United States has turned to Russia for help. Russia has allowed resupply trains to run across its territory to Afghanistan. But the Russia route is not ideal because it takes much longer — supplies can take more than a month to arrive, as opposed to days from Pakistani ports.
And the political situation today means that Russia is far less likely to allow United States the luxury of a backup path for supplies, should Pakistan close its borders again.

What does success look like?

Success for the United States in Afghanistan would be a negotiated political solution that sees the Taliban as a political entity in the Afghan government.
It is something the Taliban have demanded in the past. The group is seeking ministerial places as well as senior positions in the army.
The Taliban are a national force that has a nationalist agenda, unlike al Qaeda and ISIS, which both have international ambitions.
Recognizing that — as Trump appears to have — is key. Certainly, it wouldn’t guarantee success, but it would help create conditions where success may be possible.
Haley: Trump listened to his generals
Haley: Trump listened to his generals 01:32
It would certainly require more diplomatic heavy lifting than the United States has managed in the past. The Taliban have a vested interest in seeing ISIS defeated and al Qaeda diminished — both are threats.
Both groups share a broadly common conservative Islamic philosophy and, to a significant degree, their fighters in Afghanistan and Pakistan are drawn from the same Pashtun ethnic group, with similarly strong cultural beliefs. This makes it even more important for the Taliban to gain recognition as a political force to represent their community and shut down sympathy for ISIS and al Qaeda.
And that’s the Taliban’s value to the Afghan government and to Trump: to co-opt them into denying territory to terrorists.

What will it take to achieve the plan?

Trust between all parties is central to this plan working.
Pakistan will have to feel that it can trust the United States to act in Pakistan’s interest as well as its own — something that will be complicated because of Trump’s huge appeal in India.
First, the United States cannot afford to make any mistakes — by this we mean civilian casualties that further damage its reputation. Second, it needs to practice quiet diplomacy and try to build a working relationship with the Taliban — which has suffered the most from American intervention.
India has to hold its venom on Pakistan, which it came close to doing in its statement Tuesday responding to Trump’s address.
And the Afghan government needs to win the confidence of its own people through curbing corruption and cronyism.
This is the only way it can build an army that thinks it has a country worth fighting for.
The fate of Afghanistan has always been in the hands of the generals who are invading it.
Trump’s announcement Monday night has done nothing to change this.
Courtesy, CNN

ISIS-linked militants storm school, take hostages in south Philippines village

ISIS-linked militants storm school, take hostages in south Philippines village
Dozens of hostages, including children, have been freed in a Philippines village after armed terrorists stormed a local school. The hostage situation was resolved after a day-long shootout with government troops. No civilian casualties are reported.

“The enemy made a hasty withdrawal, leaving behind 31 hostages, among them 12 youngsters,” a military spokesman, Brigadier General Restituto Padilla, said, as quoted by Reuters. 20 others, caught in the crossfire, have also been freed.

“It’s over… but we’re also on guard because they might carry out other attacks,” Padilla added.

Government troops have been engaging members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) after the terrorists partly overran the village of Malagakit, located just outside of Pigcawayan town, Chief Inspector Realan Mamon said.

According to Padilla, 50 Islamist fighters raided the Christian-Muslim village. Earlier police reports said there were nearly 300 armed men.

The police chief confirmed that the militants entered the village shortly after 5:00am on Wednesday.

The assailants, however, claimed that they did not take people hostage, but were merely protecting them from government troops, promising to release civilians.

“We protected them [the hostages] from the bullets from [the] Army. We will release them later. We did not use them as human shields,” BIFF spokesman Abu Mama Misri told the Inquirer on the phone.

Pigcawayan Mayor Eliseo Garsesa revealed that authorities had received intelligence reports about text message chatter that the “armed groups were coming.” Garsesa, however, said that such messages were common, and it could not always be verified, the Manila Times reports.

READ MORE: Jihadist fighters may have escaped besieged city – Philippines official

Initially, the Philippines Army was unable to determine whether there had been any captives and whether students and teachers were among them.

The gunmen targeted an army outpost and a patrol base of a pro-government militia, before being repelled by army units, Restituto Padilla said, according to the Sun Star. The raid, he added, was aimed at disrupting the ongoing government offensive against the ISIS-linked Maute group.

“If this is a diversionary move, it’s not the first by these BIFF gunmen,” Padilla said. “They have tried to attack more than once and all have been thwarted.”

For almost a month now, the Philippines Army has been battling radical Islamist militants in Marawi, the capital of the country’s second largest island, Mindanao.

‘Dirty Duterte’ on the ropes as ISIS, US Special Forces crash the Philippines (Op-Edge by @Robert_Bridge) https://on.rt.com/8ezh 

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‘Dirty’ Duterte on the ropes as ISIS, US Special Forces crash the Philippines — RT Op-Edge

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has found himself in a perilous situation, as Islamic State-linked militants continue a siege in the country’s south, while US Special Forces have arrived to…

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Apart from the main Maute terrorist group, which has pledged allegiance to Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), there are around 20 other foreign and local jihadist cells, including BIFF, operating in Mindanao, Solicitor General Jose Calida revealed on Monday.

“In addition to ISIS-linked local rebel groups, there are also ISIS cell groups that operate all over Mindanao. These cell groups conduct coordinated attacks with the aforesaid rebel groups,” Calida said.

The death toll from the fighting in the Philippines has so far surpassed 300. According to official government figures, 225 militants, 59 soldiers, and 26 civilians have been killed in the clashes.

On Tuesday, President Rodrigo Duterte warned of a full-scale civil war if the ongoing violence spills into other parts of Mindanao. He urged the local separatist group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which was recently offered some kind of autonomy, to “take care of the area they want” and join the fight against foreign-influenced Maute and other terrorist cells.

“Because if there’s civil war, there would be killings. Here in Mindanao, there are more Christians and they have better guns. They are buying. The rich ones, they’re stockpiling guns,” Duterte said, according to the Inquirer. “That’s what’s dangerous. To prevent a communal war, we really need to stop this.”

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