Can the UK or the Foreign Minister be Anymore Stupid?

 Philip Hammond@PHammondMP 7h7 hours ago

Leading business delegation with to discuss future opportunities in for British business.

Embedded image permalink

Graffiti in Persian reads "Death to England" is seen above a picture of Queen Elizabeth II at the British Embassy in Tehran, Iran   

Courtesy of the Telegraph.

The graffiti above a portrait of the Queen provided a scrawled reminder of just how venomous Anglo-Iranian relations once were.

”Death to England” read the message in orange marker pen, daubed inside the elegant ambassador’s residence of the British embassy in Tehran. The motif was still visible on Sunday when Philip Hammond officially reopened the mission, four years after a mob vandalised its spacious premises.

On November 29 2011, this building along with every other in the embassy’s five-acre compound was ransacked by about 200 people, including members of the regime’s Basij militia.

The Foreign Secretary says Iran and Britain will not always agree but there should be no limit to what the countries can achieve together ….. He said WHAT?

Iran’s ayatollahs will never be friends of the UK

We are heading for disaster if we abandon our historic Middle East allies in favour of friendship with Tehran

In part from the Guardian: Here we go again: another British foreign secretary in Iran with the hopeful expectation of forging closer ties with the ayatollahs. Ever since Iran’s Islamic revolution in 1979, the holy grail of British foreign policy has been to reach out to the moderates in Tehran, thereby isolating the hardliners.

Back in the Eighties when, thanks to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, British hostages such as Terry Waite and John McCarthy spent five or so years chained to radiators in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, Sir Geoffrey Howe, our then foreign secretary, frequently told me that the hostage crisis could be resolved if only we could establish a working relationship with the moderates in Tehran. But for all our entreaties, the hardliners won the day, and the hostages were eventually released when the ayatollahs deemed them to be surplus to their agenda.

More recently, in 2003, New Labour’s Jack Straw believed he had identified a similar moderate tendency in Iran’s political establishment, during the presidency of Mohammad Khatami. This, of course, was in the aftermath of the Iraq War, when the ayatollahs feared – not unduly – that they might be next on President George W Bush’s hit list.

Lord Lamont, the former Tory Chancellor, is one of the more vocal members among an influential group of establishment figures in London who advocate embracing the ayatollahs, a view that is also being enthusiastically taken up by those in the business community who hope to benefit from the estimated £100 billion Iran will soon receive when its overseas assets are released.

But in this unseemly scramble, the Government now appears content to turn a blind eye to some of Iran’s more egregious activities. For example, after an Iranian mob stormed and then trashed the embassy compound in 2011, the Government insisted there would be no restoration of relations until the Iranians paid full compensation for the damage caused. But as this newspaper reports today, Britain has paid the full cost of the repairs.

Similarly, Whitehall would like to draw a discreet veil over similarly vexing issues, such as whether the Home Office will be able to act against Iranian nationals who overstay their welcome in the UK. Without the proper safeguards, we could end up with Hizbollah and Revolutionary Guard terrorists setting up operations in the UK, just like al-Qaeda and Isil have sought to do.

Who is This David Kendall, the Clinton’s Lawyer

If and it is a big IF, some of the Hillary emails in question were not marked with any classified designations, then one must take a hard look at all of Hillary’s inner circle with particular emphasis on Huma Abedin. Why? Huma sent emails to Hillary which was a collection of several classified electronic dispatches that were classified and summarized them into a regular and unprotected email. Confused? More here. Heh, there were passages about snipers, people movement and vehicles.

It seems the New York Times has an axe to grind with the Clintons, imagine that. But the NYT is the go to media outlet when it comes to the White House and it cannot be forgotten that it was in fact the New York Times that was first to draw blood with regard to the Clintons. This was likely due to, but not proven at the hands of Valerie Jarrett protecting the White House from any concocted Clinton scheme and scandal.

Do, who is David Kendall? There must be some praise to the New York Times as they did list some, albeit, some Clinton scandals but the list if far from complete.

As a side matter, it will also come down to who can out-lawyer who in Washington DC…will Kendall always win?

From Whitewater to Email: David Kendall, the Clintons’ Dogged Lawyer

WASHINGTON — At first, he had to worry about a remote piece of land in Arkansas that no one wanted. Then there were billing records that went missing before mysteriously reappearing in the White House. And of course there was the blue dress.

Today, the object of concern for David E. Kendall is a tiny thumb drive that sat in a safe at his law firm until a couple weeks ago before attracting the attention of Congress, the F.B.I. and the news media. Once again, the whirlpool of Washington politics has arrived at Mr. Kendall’s doorstep as he defends perhaps the world’s most famous client.

For more than 20 years, Mr. Kendall has been on the front lines for Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton as their personal lawyer, battling investigators and litigants in the superheated environment where law and politics meet. From Whitewater to impeachment, he has waged legal warfare to keep the Clintons’ political careers on track. So as Mrs. Clinton faces questions about her use of a personal email server as secretary of state, no one is surprised she turned to Mr. Kendall.

The latest furor has put Mr. Kendall under a spotlight in a way that discomfits the tight-lipped and camera-shy lawyer. From Mrs. Clinton’s foes come public questions about why he had the thumb drive containing her email and whether he secured it properly. From Mrs. Clinton’s friends come private questions about whether he has managed the situation effectively and whether he should be more outspoken to protect a Democratic presidential candidate leading in the polls.

“They always say, ‘Is Kendall the lawyer to do this or that?’” said James Carville, the former political strategist for Mr. Clinton who expresses great admiration for Mr. Kendall. “I never saw that there was a huge conflict. But you know, sometimes lawyers are lawyers and spokespeople are spokespeople.”

Mr. Kendall, said Mr. Carville, is not a public pit bull. “He has no bluster about him,” Mr. Carville said. “He’s aggressive, but he doesn’t have an in-your-face kind of thing about him. I don’t think he views that as his role. The chances that he’s going to talk to the press are way beyond remote.”

Unsurprisingly, Mr. Kendall declined to comment last week. But he enjoys Mrs. Clinton’s deep confidence.

“He has their complete trust, and he’s earned their complete trust,” said Robert Barnett, another lawyer for the Clintons and a partner with Mr. Kendall at Williams & Connolly in Washington. “There’s nobody more dedicated to his clients than David Kendall. There’s nobody who spends more time thinking about how to help his clients than David Kendall.”

To critics, that is the problem. Mr. Kendall, who turned over the thumb drive to the Justice Department on Aug. 6, has become so integrated into the Clinton apparatus that he risks crossing the line from lawyer to participant, they said. Two Republican senators wrote him letters in recent weeks questioning his handling of the thumb drive.

“The problem with the Clintons is once you begin working with them or acting as their agent you often get caught up in their scandals,” said Tom Fitton, the president of Judicial Watch, a watchdog group suing over Mrs. Clinton’s email. “So now Mr. Kendall is stuck having to explain his handling of the classified information Mrs. Clinton gave him.” More from the NYT’s here.

Who is at Fault When it Comes to Syria Refugees?

This matter comes down to no policy on the war in Syria and the misguided, yet no less corrupt leaders in this matter include the National Security Council at the White House, Barack Obama himself and the failed control and management at the State Department which began with Hillary Clinton and now with John Kerry.

The United Nations is at the core of the mismanagement and Western countries are left to clean up the mess, while some are now saying NO.

U.N. Calls on Western Nations to Shelter Syrian Refugees

“In the case of Syrian refugees, our intelligence on the ground is alarmingly slim, making it harder to identify extremists,” said Representative Michael McCaul, Republican of Texas and chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.

The United Nations high commissioner for refugees, António Guterres, has stepped up calls for industrialized countries, including the United States, to shelter 130,000 Syrian refugees over the next two years.

The figure is a fraction of the nearly four million refugees who have poured into the countries bordering Syria — chiefly Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey — straining their resources and plunging many displaced people into poverty.

So far, the high commissioner’s pleas have not been met. Governments around the world have promised to take in just under two-thirds of what the United Nations is urging, while a great many more Syrians have chosen to make perilous journeys by land and sea in search of asylum in Europe. More here from the New York Times.

McCaul Says Admitting Unvetted Syrian Refugees into the U.S. is “Very Dangerous”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Chairman Michael McCaul, of the House Homeland Security Committee, wrote a letter to President Obama last Thursday expressing concerns over the Administration’s announced plans to resettle some 2,000 Syrian refugees in the United States this year. Terrorists have made known their plans to attempt to exploit refugee programs to sneak terrorists into the West and the U.S. homeland. Chairman McCaul’s letter points out the potential national security threat this poses to the United States.

Chairman McCaul: “Despite all evidence towards our homeland’s vulnerability to foreign fighters, the Administration still plans to resettle Syrian refugees into the United States. The Director of the National Counterterrorism Center and the Deputy Director of the FBI both sat before my Committee this Congress and expressed their concern with admitting refugees we can’t properly vet from the global epicenter of terrorism and extremism in Syria. America has a proud tradition of welcoming refugees from around the world, but in this special situation the Obama Administration’s Syrian refugee plan is very dangerous.”

Read Chairman McCaul’s letter HERE.


The Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence will hold a hearing on June 24th to examine the refugee resettlement program and discuss vulnerabilities to our security exposed by the Administration’s plan.

It was last year that Barack Obama lifted restrictions on the refugee program.

U.S. eases rules to admit more Syrian refugees, after 31 last year

President Barack Obama’s administration announced on Wednesday that it had eased some immigration rules to allow more of the millions of Syrians forced from their homes during the country’s three-year civil war to come to the United States.

Only 31 Syrian refugees – out of an estimated 2.3 million – were admitted in the fiscal year that ended in October, prompting demands for change from rights advocates and many lawmakers.

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have been taken in by neighboring countries such as Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.

The rules changes granted exemptions on a case by case basis to the “material support” bar in U.S. immigration law, according to an announcement in the Federal Register signed by Secretary of State John Kerry and Jeh Johnson, the Secretary of Homeland Security.

That bar had made it impossible for anyone who had provided any support to armed rebel groups to come to the United States, even if the groups themselves receive aid from Washington.

The advocacy group Human Rights First said, for example, that the existing law had been invoked to bar a refugee who had been robbed of $4 and his lunch by armed rebels, and a florist who had sold bouquets to a group the United States had designated as a terrorist organization.

“These exemptions will help address the plight of Syrian refugees who are caught up in the worst humanitarian crisis in a generation,” Illinois Senator Richard Durbin, chairman of the U.S. Senate subcommittee on human rights, said in a statement.

It was not immediately clear how many Syrians would be affected by the rules change.

By early January, 135,000 Syrians had applied for asylum in the United States. But the strict restrictions on immigration, many instituted to prevent terrorists from entering the country, had kept almost all of them out.

Washington has provided $1.3 billion in humanitarian assistance to aid Syrian refugees. This year, the United Nations is also trying to relocate 30,000 displaced Syrians it considers especially vulnerable. Witnesses at a Senate hearing last month had testified that Washington would normally accept half.

ISIS Android Users and Threatening Russia?

In 2014, ISIS set Russia as a target and Russia remains a target in 2015.

As ISIS militants, also known as Islamic State and ISIL, continue in their conquest of Syria the group is now reportedly setting its sights on the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin.


The militant group has enjoyed considerable military success in the middle east recently, and most recently, captured the last Syrian military base in the north of the country. It then recorded a special video message from an aircraft hangar at the base for Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, and his ally, Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Now On Android: IS Releases Russian Propaganda App

Radio Free Europe: Islamic State (IS) militants from the extremist group’s Russian-speaking faction have released a propaganda app for Google’s popular Android platform.

The app, called Caucas, is not available through the Google Play Store, where Android users obtain mainstream apps. Instead, it was made available for download on August 18 via links posted on sites such as, a U.S.-based digital archive that IS often uses to post videos. The links were shared via the Sahih Media page on VKontakte.

What’s In The App?


The app provides several types of IS propaganda in Russian. The first is a daily roundup of IS “news” from across IS-controlled territory in Syria and Iraq (left). The roundup for August 18 included reports of clashes between IS and various groups in Aleppo Province in Syria and in the Anbar and Salahuddin provinces in Iraq.

The Caucas app also replicates some of the material on the Sahihmedia website and includes Russian-subtitled IS videos such as speeches by various IS leaders like Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (below left).

Who Created The App?

The app appears to have been created by IS supporters in the North Caucasus rather than in Syria or Iraq.

The group behind the app is the newly formed Sahih Media rather than Furat Media, the group that has declared itself to be IS’s official Russian-language media outlet.​


And a splash screen for the app refers to “Vilayat Kavkaz,” the name IS has given to its so-called province in the North Caucasus even though the extremist group does not control any territory in the Russian Federation.

However, the Caucas app and Sahih Media’s website make extensive use of Furat Media-branded material, indicating that the purpose of the app is a vehicle to spread existing IS propaganda among supporters in the North Caucasus.

Why Make An App?

While it is not very sophisticated, the Caucas IS app can be downloaded and used by anyone with an Android smartphone or tablet, making it easy for IS supporters with such technology to keep current with IS reports and videos.

By accessing propaganda this way, IS supporters in the North Caucasus have an alternative to using social networks like VKontakte, where IS accounts are often banned and where pro-IS users often express concern that they are being monitored by Russian security services.

The app could also be useful for Russian-speaking militants inside IS territory, who also rely on social media to obtain news of IS’s military activities in areas outside their immediate location.

Are Apps The Future For IS Propaganda?

As social-media networks increasingly crack down on IS propaganda accounts, the extremist group could produce more apps to allow it to continue spreading its violent ideology.

It is relatively simple to create an app on Android, with sites like AppGeyser allowing users to design and build apps without even knowing how to code.

And IS propagandists can easily distribute the apps through preexisting channels on social media.

The Caucas app is not the first IS Android app, though it is the first in Russian.

Earlier this month, IS supporters distributed a link to an Android app they claimed allowed users to access IS reports and publications.

Activist Abu Ibrahim Raqqawi of the Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently anti-IS group posted an image of the app’s splash screen on Twitter on August 3.

Turkey, ISIS, Kurds and the Why

U.S. confirms ISIS chemical weapons use against the Kurds

MilitaryTimes: U.S. military officials in Iraq have issued preliminary confirmation that Islamic State militants used mustard gas in a mortar attack on Kurdish forces in August, a Defense Department official said.

After an Aug. 11 attack that reportedly sickened dozens of Kurdish troops, the Kurds provided U.S. officials with fragments of shells that later tested positive for the presence of “HD, or what is known as sulfur mustard,” said Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Kevin J. Killea, chief of staff for Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve.

The attack occurred in the town of Makhmour in northern Iraq near the front lines of the Kurdish forces’ fight against the Islamic State, according to Killea, who briefed reporters at the Pentagon on Friday.

Killea cautioned that this was a “presumptive field test,” and further analysis is needed to possibly determine the source of the chemical weapon.

Both Iraq and Syria have in the past maintained stockpiles of chemical weapons, and U.S. officials say it is unclear whether the Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL, has seized any of those weapons.

The HD strain of mustard is listed as a “Schedule I” chemical weapon and is strictly banned under the international treaty known as the Chemical Weapons Convention. When sprayed or released from artillery shells, mustard agents blister skin and can damage lungs if inhaled.

Killea said the potential confirmation of the Islamic State’s use of chemical weapons will not necessarily have any impact on U.S. policy.

“We really don’t need another reason to hunt down ISIL and kill them wherever we can and whenever we can,” he said. “Any indication of the use of a chemical warfare agent, purely from our perspective, reinforces our position that this is an abhorrent group that will kill indiscriminately without any moral or legal code or restraint.”


What is Erdogan and Turkey really doing as a NATO country…

Politico: On July 23 virtually every news outlet in the United States ran some version of the following headline: “Turkey Joins the Fight Against ISIL; Opens Air Base to Coalition Forces; Washington and Ankara Agree to Safe Zone in Syria.” The media, being what it is, dubbed Ankara’s decision to order up airstrikes on Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s forces a “game changer,” which is what journalists say when they have nothing else to say, do not understand a situation and are itching to get back to covering Donald Trump. The only game that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is actually interested in changing is the political one that he has been uncharacteristically losing since mid-June when his Justice and Development Party (AKP) lost the parliamentary majority it has held since November 2002. Erdogan’s military actions against the self-proclaimed Islamic State are best understood as one part a desperate, highly complex attempt by Erdogan to win back the power he lost. If his plan fails, the risky multi-front war Erdogan has just launched may become his undoing.


It’s hard to believe that Erdogan took a fresh look at what was happening in Syria and Iraq and came to the conclusion that joining the American-led fight against the Islamic State was in Turkey’s national interest. The prevailing theory among Turkey watchers instead is this: Ankara agreed to fight against the Islamic State so America would allow it to attack the Kurds (who are also at war with ISIL) and therby improve the AKP’s political prospects in parliamentary elections that will be scheduled for the fall. This may sound like Turkey geeks inside the Beltway have watched “Wag the Dog” one too many times, but the rationale and rationality of Erdogan’s moves are hard to dispute.

In exchange for granting American and coalition forces access to Turkish bases, the Obama administration stood aside as Turks renewed their fight with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)—a terrorist organization that has been waging war on Turkey since the mid-1980s. The U.S. government also publicly agreed to help Ankara set up a “safe zone” for Syrian refugees in northern Syria, which makes it impossible for the Syrian Kurds to establish a territorially continuous independent canton in northern Syria. Conflict with the Kurds is very good politics for Erdogan as he seeks to shore up his nationalist base, which regards Kurds as mortal enemies. Erdogan is clearly calculating that turning up the heat on the PKK and dashing the hopes of Syrian Kurds for greater autonomy will reverse June’s electoral outcome and reproduce another parliamentary majority for the AKP by weakening Turkey’s legal Kurdish-based party, which he accuses of being an extension of the PKK.

The “Islamic State-Turkish Bases-Safe Zone-Fight the Kurds-Boost Erdogan’s Political Position” theory is not a bad one even if it seems to come perilously close to conspiracy mongering. Why else would the Turks change their position on the fight against the Islamic State? For the past year, Ankara has had a dim view of America’s strategy, which they believed was half-assed given that it did not address what Ankara considers to be the root cause of the Islamic State problem—Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. They were also quite rightly concerned that, unlike New York City, Istanbul is relatively close to the Islamic State and that if Turkey signed up with the United States, blood was more likely to flow in Taksim rather than Times Square. Most importantly, the Turks have been worried that the violence and instability that has enveloped Syria and Iraq has improved the prospects that Kurds in these failing states will seek independence. Those concerns fuel fears that Turkey’s 14 million Kurds will do the same. To the extent that the Islamic State and Kurds were battling each other in northern Syria and Iraq, Ankara was content to watch them damage each other.

The idea that Ankara joined Washington’s anti-Islamic State effort in order to fight the Kurds has some added weight from anonymous U.S. military sources telling the Wall Street Journal that they believe the Turks snookered the White House. The whole explanation hinges on the fact that since the media declared a “game changer,” the Turkish air force has undertaken a single airstrike on the Islamic State while attacking PKK positions in southeastern Turkey regularly. The Iraqi government has also complained of Turkish raids against Kurdish fighters in the Qandil Mountains. As with everything, there seems to be some missing context. American commanders asked the Turks to hold off until American personnel could arrive at Incirlik and everyone could sort out what was likely to become a crowded airspace. That is certainly reasonable and explains why there have been so few Turkish warheads on ISIS foreheads, but it does not alter what seems to be Turkey’s overall strategy in service of Erdogan’s unbounded ambition.

Erdogan has proven himself to be a shrewd cat over many years, but there are risks for him everywhere in this strategy. It seems entirely possible that despite spinning Turkey up on a war footing, the outcome of new parliamentary elections will be the same as those held June when voters flocked to the AKP’s nationalist competitor and the party’s religious Kurdish constituency abandoned the party in droves. The result would be exactly the opposite of what Erdogan intends, permanently compromising and marginalizing the president. It is also possible that the current skirmish with the PKK becomes a lengthier and bloodier battle. Turks will, of course, place blame on the PKK first, but as the number of body bags increases and more Turkish soldiers are laid to rest, the public may very well turn against Erdogan and the AKP. There are scattered signs that this dynamic is already underway as Turks wonder why they are suddenly at war again after a two-and-a-half year lull. Finally, even if the Turks don’t fire a shot at the Islamic State, the very fact that Ankara has opened up its bases to coalition aircraft puts Turkey in the Islamic State’s crosshairs. In response to Turkey’s decision to allow coalition aircraft to use Incirlik and other bases, the Islamic State released a video on Tuesday vowing to conquer Istanbul and calling the Turkish leader an “infidel and traitor.” If, after carefully avoiding a confrontation with the terror group for the better part of a year, Turks are killed in Ankara’s Kizilay or along Istanbul’s Istiklal Caddessi, Erdogan would most likely be held responsible for this bloodshed.

The politics of the current moment represent the biggest challenge Erdogan has faced since his leadership of the country formally began in March 2003. Almost everything that Erdogan cares about is at stake—the executive presidency he desires, the future of the AKP and his legacy of peace. It is unclear how Erdogan resolves the crosscutting  political pressures to his advantage. Any move to settle one creates another problem for him. It is hard for him to go back to the well and blame the United States—he invited them in—or any of Erdogan’s favorite bogeymen that have been used so deftly in the past to deflect the government’s failures. The president has no such luxury this time given how painfully obvious the multiple threats Turkey confronts are the result of both violent terrorist groups and Erdogan’s own political machinations. It is a sign of a weakening politician desperate to reverse his slide. If Erdogan solves the puzzle, he will get his executive presidency and he will continue his vision for the transformation of the country. If he does not, Turkey is in for an extended period of instability and violence. Either way, Turks will pay a steep price.

Read more: