The Conversation

Foreign Affairs: What's going on around the world.

Rocker Girl, Mother of Two ISIS Recruit Wants to Behead Christians with 'a Blunt Knife'

Aug 31, 2014 1:12 PM PT

The Islamic State's recruiting efforts across the Western world have been disturbingly successful. At least two Americans have died fighting for ISIS; both were described as fairly ordinary American kids by everyone who knew them only a year or two ago. The man who beheaded American journalist James Foley on video was almost certainly a British citizen, most likely Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary, a West London rapper from an affluent home whose music was played on BBC Radio One.  

UK Metro has a story about another former musician gone over to ISIS, Sally Jones, seen here fronting an all-girl rock band in happier times:

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Islamist militia seizes US embassy in Libya

Aug 31, 2014 12:30 PM PT

If Barack Obama's hideous foreign policy debacles were a stage play, this is the point where Hillary Clinton would be lowered on wires to fly around the stage shrieking "WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE?"  Tripoli has fallen to Islamists, prompting Egypt and the United Arab Emirates to conduct bombing runs against the Muslim Brotherhood without even bothering to inform former U.S. President Barack Obama (who is, once again, playing golf while the world burns down.)  

Now the Islamists claim to be in control of the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, which was long since abandoned by American personnel.  Reuters relates claims from U.S. officials that the thugs are only running wild in the outer annex, while the inner compound remains secure.  That fine detail might be lost on viewers of the Dawn of Libya YouTube channel:

A YouTube video showed the breach of the vacated diplomatic facility by an armed group from the northwestern city of Misrata, with dozens of fighters seen crowding around a swimming pool and some diving in from the balcony of a nearby building.

It was not immediately known how close the annex, apparently made up of diplomatic residences, is to the embassy itself.

Libya has been rocked by the worst factional violence since the 2011 fall of Muammar Gaddafi, and a Misrata-led alliance, part of it which is Islamist-leaning, now controls the capital.

A takeover of the embassy compound could deliver another symbolic blow to Washington over its policy toward Libya, which Western governments fear is teetering toward becoming a failed state just three years after a NATO-backed war ended Gaddafi’s rule.

The United States evacuated its embassy in Tripoli on July 26, driving diplomats across the border into Tunisia under armed guard, amid escalating clashes between rival factions.

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With 'Torture' Disclosures, Obama, Holder Gave Islamists Media Ammunition

Aug 29, 2014 7:42 AM PT

One of the major conservative criticisms of President Barack Obama's decision, early in his presidency, to release secret memoranda about interrogation techniques used against terrorists was that the president--and Attorney General Eric Holder, who threatened prosecutions of intelligence officials--were giving America's enemies crucial information that would allow them to prepare themselves to resist questioning in the future.

Now we see another risk: that a terror group like ISIS would use American interrogation techniques against western hostages, not to produce intelligence but to create a false moral equivalency with the U.S. and undermine American morale. Here, for example, is how the Huffington Post reports the torture of James Foley, the journalist beheaded by ISIS: "James Foley Was Tortured by ISIS Militants Using CIA Techniques."

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Obama's Confusing, Expanding, Nonexistent ISIS Strategy

Aug 28, 2014 2:43 PM PT

President Obama just finished a brief statement at the White House focused on his response to ISIS in Iraq and Russians in Ukraine. With regard to ISIS, Obama first downplayed U.S. goals in Iraq, then expanded them and finally said we had no strategy at all.

Using a transcript provided by the Washington Post, here's how Obama explained our foreign policy in Iraq [emphasis added]:

Our focus right now is to protect American personnel on the ground in Iraq, to protect our embassy, to protect our consulates, to make sure that critical infrastructure that could adversely affect our personnel is protected.

Where we see an opportunity that allows us, with very modest risk, to help the humanitarian situation there, as we did in Sinjar Mountain, we will take those opportunities after having consulted with Congress.

But our core priority right now is just to make sure that our folks are safe and to do an effective assessment of Iraqi and Kurdish capabilities.

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Report: Second American Killed Fighting for ISIS Identified

Aug 27, 2014 8:58 PM PT

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Report: Obama Delayed James Foley Rescue a Month, Fretting over His Image and Golfing

Aug 24, 2014 11:44 AM PT

According to a new Sunday Times report by Toby Harden, "Pentagon sources said Foley and the others might well have been rescued but Obama, concerned about the ramifications of US troops being killed or captured in Syria, took too long to authorise the mission."

It's claimed that Obama was concerned about his administration being Carterized had the mission failed. 

For President Barack Obama the decision to send in the Night Stalkers was an agonising one. The audacious bin Laden raid in Pakistan had been a success but also preying on his mind was the failed 1980 Delta Force operation to rescue American hostages in Tehran. Sandstorms and mechanical troubles led the mission to be abandoned and eight American troops were killed when two aircraft collided. The debacle cast a shadow over Jimmy Carter’s presidency.

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Kurdish Female Warriors On The Front Lines Fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria

Aug 23, 2014 8:41 PM PT

 notoriously fierce segment of the Kurdish security forces are striking terror into the hearts of ISIS terrorists - female fighters. The Jihadists have no problem slaughtering defenseless women but they don't like facing armed female warriors in battle -- because they don't believe they'll go to heaven if they're killed by one of them. 

The first official female unit was formed in 1996 when women began combat training in opposition to Saddam Hussein’s regime. They've earned a  reputation for bravery and skill in the battlefield - so much so Peshmerga women are sometimes compared to Amazons.  You could call them the Kurdish Peshmerga's First Cavalry Amazon Battalion. 

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