Hollande Calls Islamic State Attacks in Paris “Act of War”

The Islamic State militant group claimed responsibility on Saturday for attacks in Paris a day earlier that left at least 127 people dead.

President François Hollande called the attacks “an act of war.”

“All measures to protect our compatriots and our territory are being taken within the framework of the state of emergency,” he said. Read more “Hollande Calls Islamic State Attacks in Paris “Act of War””

France Deploys Carrier to Support War on Islamic State

French president François Hollande said on Thursday he would deploy his nation’s only aircraft carrier to the Eastern Mediterranean to support the war against the self-declared Islamic State in the Levant.

“The aircraft carrier will enable us to be more efficient in coordination with our allies,” the French president said at the inauguration of a new Defense Ministry headquarters in Paris.

Moored in the Mediterranean port of Toulon, France’s Charles de Gaulle carries fighter as well as surveillance jets and is typically accompanied by an attack submarine and several frigates and refueling ships when it is deployed.

France began bombing Islamic State targets in Syria in September. It was the first NATO ally to join the United States in attacking the group in Iraq as well. The Islamic militants control territory in both countries. Read more “France Deploys Carrier to Support War on Islamic State”

Blaming Obama for Islamic State’s Rise is Absurd

Barack Obama
American president Barack Obama observes the annual Memorial Day ceremony at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Illinois, May 31, 2010 (White House/Pete Souza)

Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor who is a candidate to succeed Barack Obama in 2016, reiterated a familiar Republican lament on Tuesday when he suggested that the Democratic incumbent’s withdrawal from Iraq was to blame for the emergence of the self-declared Islamic State in the country.

This is an absurd accusation. Read more “Blaming Obama for Islamic State’s Rise is Absurd”

Turkey’s Commitment to Defeating Islamists in Doubt

Turkey’s joining of the American-led air campaign against the self-declared Islamic State in Iraq and Syria last month was hailed as something of a “game changer” in Washington DC where leaders had long urged their NATO ally to help defeat the fanatical Islamist organization.

Almost two weeks later, there are serious doubts about Turkey’s commitment to the effort.

As the Atlantic Sentinel has reported, Turkey seems more interested in suppressing Kurdish nationalism — both in northern Syria and within its own borders — than routing the Islamic State.

The start of Turkey’s bombing campaign against both Islamic State and Kurdish fighters in Syria coincided with a wave of arrests of Kurdish and left-wing activists at home, following the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party’s surprising breakthrough in the June election when it won seats in parliament for the first time and denied the ruling Islamist party an absolute majority. Read more “Turkey’s Commitment to Defeating Islamists in Doubt”

Turkey Targets Islamic State, Keeps Eye on Kurds

Turkish jets carried out their first attacks on Islamic State targets in neighboring Syria overnight, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu’s office announced early on Friday. Two command centers and a rallying point were said to be hit.

The attacks came hours after Turkey allowed the United States to use its Incirlik Air Base to stage attacks against the radical Islamist group that has proclaimed a caliphate in the Levant.

Turkey previously shied away from fighting the Islamic State — and denied its NATO ally use of the Incirlik base — because the group also does battle with the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad that Turkey opposes. Read more “Turkey Targets Islamic State, Keeps Eye on Kurds”

Britain to “Do More” to Defeat Islamists in Syria: Cameron

Prime Minister David Cameron said on Sunday he wants Britain to do more to help defeat the self-declared Islamic State in Syria as part of what he described as a “full-spectrum response” to the radical Islamist group.

“We have to destroy this caliphate, whether it is in Iraq or in Syria,” Cameron told the American news program Meet the Press. “That is a key part of defeating this terrorist scourge that we face.”

Although British jets have been striking Islamic State targets in Iraq with the permission of the central government there, the United Kingdom shied away from carrying out attacks in Syria in 2013 when the opposition Labour Party demanded a United Nations Security Council resolution before authorizing military intervention.

Cameron recognized on Sunday he would need lawmakers’ support before Britain could conduct strikes in Syria. “I’ll always have to take my Parliament with me,” he said. Read more “Britain to “Do More” to Defeat Islamists in Syria: Cameron”

Why the West Shies Away from Fighting Islamic State

After Friday’s deadly terrorist attacks in France, Kuwait and Tunisia, calls to step up the fight against the Islamic State militant group are likely to grow louder.

But except for the occasional lone-wolf attack, the group does not pose an organized threat to the West. Its territorial ambitions — which are unlike those of other Islamic terrorists — more directly menace Western allies in the Middle East.

Even if it was unclear if the group — which controls land in the east of Syria as well the west of Iraq — coordinated all three attacks, its call to jihad (holy war) and the one-year anniversary of its declaration of a caliphate could have inspired the various gunmen involved.

The Islamic State did claim responsibility for a suicide bombing in Kuwait that killed 27 and left more than two hundred Shia Muslims injured. But a shooting in a Tunisian resort town the same day and an attack on a gas factory in Lyon, France did not seem directly related.

The group’s military successes against the Iraqi government have inspired would-be jihadists in the West. In the last year alone, lone radicalized Muslims have staged attacks in Copenhagen, Ottawa and Sydney.

Some argue the West should do more to defeat the militants. Read more “Why the West Shies Away from Fighting Islamic State”

Fall of Ramadi Biggest Setback for Iraq in Year’s Time

In the biggest blow to Iraq’s central government since the fall of Mosul a year ago, Islamic State militants on Sunday said they had taken control of Ramadi, the country’s tenth largest city and the capital of the mostly Sunni Anbar Province.

The same day, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi signed off on the deployment of Shia volunteer militias to take back the city, something he previously resisted for fear of provoking a sectarian backlash.

The self-proclaimed Islamic State feeds on Iraqi Sunnis’ dissatisfaction with the way they are governed. Abadi’s predecessor, Nouri al-Maliki, was blatantly pro-Shia and purged Sunni officers and officials from the army and state during his eight years in power. The incumbent premier, also a Shia, has promised to do better but the central government in Baghdad is still dominated by members of his own sect. Read more “Fall of Ramadi Biggest Setback for Iraq in Year’s Time”

Libya’s Islamic State Threat Should Not Be Overstated

The Islamic State threat in Libya should not be overstated. In the long term, the outcome of the struggle between the country’s two rival governments, and the fate of the various armed groups that are loosely affiliated with either, will matter far more.

Although militants in central Libya have taken advantage of the chaos to align themselves with the jihadists who declared a caliphate in Iraq and Syria last year, they are mostly confined to the city of Derna and are believed to have a small presence in Benghazi and Sirte.

The bigger Islamist group in Benghazi is Ansar al-Sharia which carried out an attack on the American diplomatic presence there in 2012. Even if it shares many of the Islamic State’s goals, it competes with the group for members. Read more “Libya’s Islamic State Threat Should Not Be Overstated”