How Assad Funds the Islamic State

Originally posted on The Syrian Intifada:

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on November 29, 2015

George Haswani (AP Photo) George Haswani (AP Photo)

The United States Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned four individuals and six entities connected to the regime of Bashar al-Assad on November 25 for helping to transfer Syrian government funds to the Islamic State (IS), and for assisting in Russia-connected schemes to help the Assad regime evade the international sanctions imposed on it. While the sanctions freeze all assets of the individuals and entities that are under U.S. control and ban Americans from transactions with them, the most significant effect of these sanctions is political: the revelation of details about how Assad strengthens the Islamist terrorists he claims to oppose to discredit and destroy the rebellion against his regime.

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FTAC – The “Medieval Time Bubble” Mentioned


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Imagine such a thing as a “Medieval Time Bubble” — a place where heads of state hold “absolute power” over their plundered and subject people. It’s in that bubble, today post-Soviet and neo-feudal, that Putin, Assad, Khamenei, AND Baghdaddi need one another for keeping on display “Assad vs The Terrorists” and sustaining eadh their own portion of the medieval worldview.

I believe Daesh autonomous in its operations and spirit but manipulated to serve the ruling feudals as a foil for their militaries or their politics, to serve as leverage (“Assad OR The Terrorists” is the name of that play), and to serve as a goad to the west and related western defense spending.

The response to Daesh AND other medieval enterprises may have to come from the world that most immediately surrounds them.

Trolls online — paid? not paid?  who knows — regularly credit the United States with having developed ISIS / ISIL / Daesh.  For cause based in news, BackChannels has taken the opposite stance, and Daesh, although autonomous in its own mind and in its own workings, serves the medieval designs of Moscow, Damascus, and Tehran for the furtherance of despotism, fascism, and militarism — and endless war — far into the 21st Century.

In essence, the dissolving of the Soviet, almost 24 years ago, led not to democracy but to a feudal revanche benefiting primarily the ultra-privileged of Russia.

Today’s axis Moscow-Tehran may boast not only autocratic governance but with the help of Daesh’s presence in Iraq and Syria, a pretty good engine for the promotion of “New Nationalist” urges elsewhere and amplified and broadened divisions between people based on legacy in nationality, race, and religion, an anti-NATO strategy that appears to be working as post-KGB / KGB-Style Theater (“Assad vs The Terrorists”) proves that perception at a glance may create a useful target’s impression of reality.

Related on BackChannels

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FTAC – Syrian Tragedy and the Promotion of the Medieval Worldview


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Assad’s central strategy, this with the probable collusion of its partners, has been to produce an interesting piece of post-KGB-style political theater: “Assad vs The Terrorists”, which becomes also “Assad OR The Terrorists.” First, however, he needed “The Terrorists”, and he needed bad enough terrorists to confuse the moderate opposition with them. He had a few ways of accomplishing this effect. He could spill Islamists out of his jails (I’ll refer to a piece on that bit of data in a moment) and he could focus his air and ground forces against FSA (the initial revolutionary force while giving the al-Qaeda Typicals (like al-Nusra and ISIS) time to incubate.

Mission accomplished.

With “The Terrorists” fully present, Assad could then make the demand, “help me, or help them.”

The same system makes way also for the Assad-side slogan, “Assad, Or We Burn the Country.” 

The western position: help neither, but try to help other forces strong enough in their own moral and fighting fiber to fight both — and the same have been fighting on their two fronts — against Assad’s forces and against Daesh.

Max Fisher’s piece attends to the complicated political nuts and bolts where I have emphasized a larger struggle between the medieval world of political absolutism, of which Putin, Assad, Khamenei, and Baghdaddi form a whole: the first three have in the fourth the enemy they need to write the future of the world their way. None appear possessed of any compassion sufficient to forestall their own inability in restraining themselves.


What has come from this has been a steady stream of “war porn” — indescribable images of death, dismemberment, maiming, and mutilation having for their subject tens of thousands of Syrian noncombatants. All who have watched the “Syrian Tragedy” — that’s my term for it — online have seen this horrific feed.

While we have also seen — and in some ways been made to see — Daesh atrocities conveyed in pictures and text, what we have seen also without end have been the targets and effects of Assad’s barrel bombing of whole areas. A portion of Homs today looks like Nagasaki after the ashes have cooled. Famously, the Palestinian Yarmouk Camp has been devastated between Assad’s forces and those of the Islamic State —…/islamic-state-releases…

Fundamentally, the struggle between the post-Soviet feudalists (“absolute powers” each of them) and the Islamic feudalists is medieval in a particularly barbaric way: both are using modern weapons absent of any apparent compassion or conscience.


The medieval screed wants the division of all against all — and those who benefit from it have to promote that division as part of their own archaic, faulted, or otherwise misguided ambition — and for shame or honor, none dare admit fault.

Worse, the medieval of mind align differentially — according to national, religious, or sectarian nominal affiliation. Because you were born . . . Shia . . . because you were born . . . Sunni . . . because you were born Russian Orthodox . . . because you were born Arab . . . . because you were born Turkish . . . . these obligations (to bully, demean, and diminish others, to pick fights with others, the more helpless, the better, etc.) are incumbent upon thee.

The medieval world had been constrained by slow transportation, primitive methods of distant communication (runners with notes or messages) and personal weaponry. These medieval elements in the modern world are not so constrained and are both borrowing and leaking themselves into the platforms, as it were, of the progressive manufacturing of devastating weapons as well as other sectors generating the modern experience of community and technology.

Start with Assad’s planes.

The barrel bombs might be basic in various ways, but the flying machines are not.

Now: Russian cruise missiles launched from air and sea; on the ground, anything that can be gotten and carried.


Part of the online crowd supports the Russian position coupled with affinity for the Christian Church (which church matters less at the moment: whatever the true political topology may be, Assad’s opposition — “The Terrorists” — are all Islamists in the Baghdaddi tradition.  Often reached for in objection to that position are the many images of dead, injured, maimed, and mangled children or their parents.  In Assad’s war, the same have not been “collateral” or “in the way” of “The Terrorists”: by all appearances and by way of general barrel bombing most of all, they have been the certain targets of Assad’s so-called “defense”.

This video post on YouTube on May 3, 2011 appears among the earliest statements of the Assad concern for any opposed to its absolute authority in Syria:

Related from 2013:

“It’s more horrific than any other war zone I’ve worked in. Most civilians are caught in crossfire, they are never really caught in direct fire. It is direct fire this time” he told BBC News. – 10/19/2013 – “Syria snipers ‘shoot at pregnant women,’ UK doctor claims.”

Such state-generated terrorism encourages sympathy for the Syrian opposition, including in the confusion “The Terrorists” that the Assad regime allowed to incubate.

There are many other and similar observations and arguments having to do with “Assad and The Terrorists” and the medieval barbarism put on display before the world.  The escalation attending Russia’s entry into the combat area, the side-by-side mix of Russo-NATO (U.S.) cooperation and “proxy war” have no effect on the kind of inhuman consciousness involved in sustaining the conflict.

It has been and remains BackChannel’s thesis that Putin, Assad, Khamenei, and Baghdaddi and what they represent — on this blog, 21st Century Feudalism — require one another for survival.

Related on BackChannels: – 10/2/2015.

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Excerpt – On Tsar Nicholas II’s Political Police



Zubatov had long harboured plans for the restructuring and expansion of the political police, envisioning an elite and quasi-independent political police, acting under the direct order of its own Special Section and only indirectly under the orders of Fontanka; a truly secret police expanding and operating at the behest of the MVD‘s edicts, circulars, and regulations and not through the statutes of the Svod Zakonov (Digest of Laws).

Plehve dismissed Lopukhin’s plan and gave Zubatov’s proposals his full support.  Zubatov’s ideas on police reform fitted comfortably within Plehve’s view of traditional tsarist bureaucratic behavior, satisfying both his belief in Imperial power politics and his secretive nature.  He conceived of political police reform in the only way his experience allowed him to: not through decentralization of authority as Lopukhin believed, but through its deconcentration — the expansion of central authority in the provinces.  Indeed, this strategy would permit Plehve to swell the size of the political police to ministerial proportions.  As a result Plehve would in fact hold two very powerful ministerial portfolios: minister of internal affairs and the unofficial post of minister of internal security, enhancing his power and prestige within both ministerial circles and the court, making him the most powerful man in Russia next to the tsar.

Zuckerman, Fredric S.  The Tsarist Secret Police in Russian Society, 1880-1917.  Pp. 92-93.  Washington Square, New York: New York University Press, 1996.

“Fontanka” refers to “Fontanka 16 Quai” (St. Petersburg), the central location, evidently of minimized importance at the above passage, for Tsar Alexander II’s secret police.

Other and Related Reference and Terms

Holler, Lyman E., “They Shoot People, Don’t They?  A Look at Soviet Terrorist Mentality.”  Air University Review, September-October 1981.


Pyotr Rachlovsky

According to Wikipedia, “Many authors maintain that it was Rachkovsky’s agent in Paris, Matvei Golovinski, who in the early 1900s authored the first edition.[3] The text presented the impending Russian Revolution of 1905 as a part of a powerful global Jewish conspiracy and fomented anti-Semitism to deflect public attention from Russia’s growing social problems. Another Rachkovsky agent, Yuliana Glinka, is often cited as the person who brought the forgery from France to Russia.”

The Protocols of the Elders of Zion

Russian Social-Democratic Worker’s Party

The Frederic S. Zuckerman Prizes

Union of Liberation

A rabbi said to me one afternoon in relation to religious zealots, “end times”, and terrorism: “Everyone’s in too much of a hurry to get to the end of the story.”

We were then looking forward.

At the moment, BackChannels has been looking backward and would say to the rabbi, “To the contrary, everyone wants to go back to the drawing board!”

For the Islamists, the “drawing board” appears to be 7th Century Medieval Barbarism.

For the Russian President, perhaps, it may be the political police serving Tsar Nicholas II.

“Reset!” takes on new meaning.

Zuckerman’s book has been the reading on deck and under way, but there is another coming: “Fontanka 16” is not only a place but (in the wild literary ways of the west) the title of another book (and one incoming): (URL to Review of the same) Fontanka 16: The Tsars’ Secret Police, by Charles A. Ruud and Sergei A. Stepanov. Montreal, Quebec, McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1999.

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Double standard? French police fire 5,000 bullets in raid

Originally posted on Behind The News:

French police on Wednesday in their raid of an apartment in north Paris fired no less than 5,000 bullets, leading many in Israel to question the double standard of the West demanding Israel show “restraint” in the face of terror

Reportedly 110 officers took part in the raid on an apartment in the suburb of St. Denis, where the Islamic State (ISIS) mastermind of Saturday’s lethal attacks, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, was believed to be hiding out.

Paris Prosecutor Francois Molins revealed that police pumped 5,000 rounds of ammo into the apartment in a shootout with terrorists, and likewise chucked in grenades, leaving the building riddled with bullet holes and with windows blown out, reports Reuters.

Police arrested eight suspects in the raid, and at least two terrorists died – one female terrorist blew herself up with a suicide belt and another terrorist was killed in the onslaught.

A third suspect is thought to…

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FTAC – Erdogan’s Stuck – Putin’s Just Gettin’ Started

Erdogan’s deposing of the Kamalist generals as he took power may have been offset recently by NATO’s relationship with his current generals, NATO has yet sway on that military. Also: Putin’s alignment with Assad in Syria and with the Shiite Assahola bars Erdogan from moving toward Moscow in all but vanity: the Turkish leader has now got his grandiose dream house, the White Palace. While Jihadists have walked from Istanbul’s airport to BadDaddyLand on his watch, and black market oil has reached buyers in Turkey, he’s a bit stuck as regards U.S.-NATO-Kurdish alignment against Daesh.

Putin may be credited with transiting the “Party Privileged” of the Soviet into a “New Nobility” in his 19th Century neo-feudal revanche.

At the moment, that enterprise has not been serving the general Russian population very well, but as he controls Russian media (and only 7 percent of the Federation reads or speaks in English), he may leverage the coming unhappiness against the west and in the cause of Great Russia. In the past year, the Russian economy has contracted by four percent and its best and brightest in entrepreneurs and professionals have fled — are fleeing — for economies in which they may sell their wares. The oil revenues on which the state has been largely dependent have been slashed deeply, so with all of that, my prediction is he will turn to the oligarchs for military funding in the name of Russian patriotism.

Stimulus for the conversation: – 11/18/2015.

The question was, “Why would they attack ISIS? ISIS are now a very convenient foreign policy tool to advance geopolitical agendas in the Middle East for many Muslim countries in the region, mainly Iran, Syria, Russia (non Muslim), Qatar, Turkey and the dreaded fanatics in the glass palaces of Riyadh.”

The medieval world has medieval headaches that it tries to share with the modern and democratic still open societies.

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FTAC – Ecumenical Islam – the Great Conversation

Social and theological issues within scripture abound, and the injunctive voice tends only to underscore them.

I have seen some awful wrap-ups on Islam, am familiar with what the “islamophobes” access — e.g., Answering Muslims / Acts 17 Apologetics — and from the hardcore of the angered, have gotten the the ghosts left in direct memory from such far flung places as Congo, which has been riven with related religious warfare (x tribal competition for valuable mining resources).…/shimmer/

While the news gathers, distributes, and promotes sensational events, the “Great Conversation”, echo of another age, that has ensued has to go somewhere, and unreasoning defense doesn’t do that — but chatter toward the moderate, peaceful, and reasoning trumps violence any day.

Where we have good relationships, decency, at least, in Christian-Jewish-Muslim discourse, I don’t believe it’s because of scripture or related spiritual guidance: it’s because of us, the speaking, and time. Our medieval world, the same that Putin, Assad, Khamenei, and Baghdadi have struggled to sustain, needs to be “back there” somewhere in the cabinet of things we used to do or recall in history as having gone through.

This is history in the making.

IF the Islamists are heretics, shouldn’t they be treated as such? If they are those who have exceeded limits (not much question about that) or who could not restrain themselves, should they not be addressed that way?

My “sword blade” on all of this has been a very light political psychology taking note of the nature of dictatorship and related malignant narcissism. The outlook doesn’t tie to any one political or religious body or system of thought but rather wants a look at certain leaders, their systems, and their followers.

*** (From another part of the same conversation) —

The Muslim Brotherhood, the modern intellectual mothership, believes the activities of any number of related organizations grounded in Islamic theology. However, the same may not see itself as irretrievably chained to medievalism in its realpolitik, i.e., it really wants to rule and believes it should (as in Egypt, so briefly). The Islamic flavor, at least, if not character, of Islam’s troubled JiSadists can neither be blinked nor masked away, but it may be approached with a wider lens on the scope of its own history (and favored legends, like the Banu Qurayza, like Saffiya).

Some leaders would rather be feared than liked.

Most people would rather be liked than feared.


Despite ourselves — and our various legacies in holy marching orders — we’re likely to tend (and “trend”) toward peace without mind-dulling, soul-numbing subjugation and subjection.  Dictatorships are becoming just oh so yesterday.

However, as in chemistry, change needs heat — extra activity — and the Ummah is getting that with every acid drop of terror spilled into the global body politic in its name.

First: defensiveness and denial, behaviors in keeping with narcissistic maintenance (whatever it is, it’s never ourselves — while “ourselves” are always a part of our problems).

Second: as with New Age Islam, rejection of a too familiar path and engagement in introspection and long conversations, and probably the long walks too that help with new writing.

Third: a glimpse of the future, that end of the tunnel sunny day, or so it may look on the way to it, never mind that it might prove another wilderness: at least it will be a different one.

Fourth: change — when you have something to go to and it looks good — one goes.

BackChannels may turn out “ChriJewsLim”, which would be fine, for what goes on living and doing so well, poor or rich, wealthy in friends or in solitude, is fine.

Wikipedia’s List of religions and spiritual traditions

Ethnologue’s map of the world’s living languages

Out of Many, One — and Earth, while it may contain many worlds, is most certainly singular.

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