Since sending my Commentary last Tuesday, I have experienced a swelling in my left knee which put me out of action temporarily. The good news (sic) on Islamism and deterrent policies is that there has been no repetition of the Paris type attacks. However, Christmas has been officially banned in Burundi and effectively banned in many other areas with only limited defence emerging from religious and political leaders. There is much to be done to preserve western beliefs.
- Of some interest is the response to the capture by the Taliban of nearly an entire district in the southern Helmand province of Afghanistan, with the effect that they now have all but two of the fourteen Helmand provinces under their control. It appears that both the British and the Americans are taking this quite seriously by increasing air strikes and by deploying additional troops. The British deployment is the first since they ended their combat mission (sic) in Helmand in Oct 2014 (it was a British ”area” I think), although this current mission is said not to be a combat one and the US deployment is said to involve only “special forces” ie not troops on the ground (See US/UK Forces in Afghanistan). One suspects that the additional action may reflect earlier reports that IS has been penetrating Afghanistan and trying to take over from the Taliban.
- There has been a slow-down in the attempts by Iraq government forces to retake Ramadi (which is only about 100kms from Baghdad). The use by IS of car bombs, of human shields and of suicide bombers are quite effective defensive weapons in what is a volatile Sunni area (See Iraq Attempts to Take Ramadi).
- The Christmas message sent out by church leaders showed some signs of addressing directly the philosophical threat from IS and other extremist Islamist groups. In a further encouraging attack on Islamic extremism, the Archbishop of Canterbury referred to the danger of an “apocalypse” of Christianity in the Middle East and the trail “of fear, violence, hatred, and determined oppression” being implemented by extremist groups. In his continued leftist messages, the Pope seemed most concerned with using an ineffectual international body – the UN –to end conflicts in Syria (see Christmas Religious Response to Is et al).
- Another report suggests a sudden major change in US immigration policy involving increased action in which Obama has approved the sending back of illegal migrants from Latin America, which have apparently increased significantly in recent months. A sustained increase in send backs has implications for the US Presidential campaign and would likely add support to policies enunciated by Trump (who could also claim support from Christmas religious statements). (See US Immigration Policy). It would also have implications for the EU refugee policy- or lack of it!
- However, Congressional hearings failed in their attempt to obtain from the Department of Home Security any data on US “emigrants” to Syria/Iraq, immigrants from across the US/Mexico border and “over-stays” on visas (See record of examination of DHS bureaucrat). The remarkable failure of the DHS official to produce data confirmed the absence of a coherent immigration policy – and seemed to indicate little knowledge of the extent of possible extremist Muslim immigrants. Earlier Commentaries mentioned my attendance at a lecture by a former CIA official claiming that the Muslim Brotherhood has “penetrated” official US agencies and universities.
- Turnbull made no attempt to make philosophical use of his Christmas message and Obama seemed to misuse his (See Turnbull, Obama Christmas Messages). Obama certainly criticised “the brutal atrocities” committed by ISIL but seemed to confine his criticism to that terrorist group and attract criticism to the bias in US refugee policy apparently favouring Sunni Muslim refugees.
A long way to go in enunciating and delivering western leadership in 2016.