The John Batchelor Show

Monday 27 August 2018

Air Date: 
August 27, 2018

Photo: Taliban video shows fighters on captured Afghan base in Baghlan (from the video) Taliban fighters loiter on the Allahuddin military base in Baghlan-e Markazi district, which it overran last week. Note how casual the Taliban fighters are, walking around in broad daylight. The Taliban killed 45 Afghan security personnel. Video edited not to show bodies of ANSDF.
Hour One
Monday   27 August 2018 / Hour 1, Block A: Tom Joscelyn, Senior Fellow, Foundation for Defense of Democracies; & Senior Editor for FDD's Long War Journal; and Bill Roggio, Long War Journal and FDD; in re: Zawahiri: “Taliban is a blessed emirate,” the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.  “No evidence of strategic ties between al Qaeda and Taliban” says the US govt. Rubbish!!  “Ayman al Zawahiri has sworn allegiance to the Taliban’s emir multiple times.”
More than 20,000 DPs from Ghzni, more than $50 mil in damage. 
Afghan security forces ceded control of the district of Ghormach in Faryab province after being besieged by the Taliban. The Afghan military’s weak grip on remote areas of the country forced the government to punt again on another district.  . . .  The Taliban, in a statement on its official website, Voice of Jihad, reported that “those enemy troops who were under siege of Mujahideen for the last one year following the conquest of Ghormach district center and other installations, fled earlier today through invaders aircraft, bringing the whole district under complete control of Mujahideen.”
High-level officials lie; provincial governors and members of the district council usu tell the truth.
Two of the most senior al Q leaders are operating in Iran.
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Al Qaeda leader argues Taliban’s ‘blessed emirate’ a core part of new caliphate    Al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri calls on Muslims to unite against an alleged “international infidel alliance” in a newly released video. The 5-minute production, which was posted online yesterday (Aug. 23), is titled “The Battle of Awareness and Will – The Solid Structure.” In it, Zawahiri holds up the Taliban’s Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan as an example for Muslims to emulate, claiming that the Taliban corrected the “course of the Afghan jihad” after it had fallen into discord. 
The al Qaeda leader begins his brief lecture by reminding his audience that the last Islamic caliphate fell during the First World War. Zawahiri laments that the infidels and occupiers divided the ummah’s territory into dozens of pieces. But from Zawahiri’s perspective, all hope wasn’t lost. 
Various movements “emerged” from within the ummah (worldwide community of Muslims) “to resist” the “tyranny” of the infidels. The most important of these was the Taliban’s Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, which set the jihadists’ project in Afghanistan on the right path. 
Zawahiri’s message highlights a key point that is often missed: Al Qaeda considers the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan to be the centerpiece of its imagined, resurrected caliphate. Of course, al Qaeda rejects Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s Islamic State and its caliphate, which has lost most of its territory. The two sides have been in open conflict since 2014. And Zawahiri implicitly draws a contrast between the Islamic State’s exclusive claims on power and al Qaeda’s own approach, which is supposedly more inclusive. 
The linchpin of Zawahiri’s argument is that the Taliban’s emirate enjoys widespread support and it is the jihadists’ duty to support it.
Zawahiri says that Osama bin Laden and other jihadist “leaders” knew how important it was for the mujahideen to rally around the Taliban’s “blessed emirate,” as it is the “core” or “nucleus” of the Muslims’ effort “to reestablish their caliphate according to the Prophetic methodology.” 
Bin Laden called on the ummah to unite behind the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and, Zawahiri claims, “many answered his call.” Although bin Laden died as a “martyr,” he had already “planted the seed of this gathering around the Islamic Emirate.” Zawahiri claims that many groups joined “together around this Islamic Emirate,” forming “an international jihadist” alliance stretching from Turkestan to the Atlantic Ocean. 
According to Zawahiri, the Taliban’s Islamic Emirate has won the affection of the ummah and continued to enjoy this support even as it fought against the Crusaders and infidels who invaded Afghanistan. Therefore, it is the jihadists’ “duty” to “strengthen” the Muslims’ unity around it. He calls upon Muslims to support the Taliban’s war against the Crusaders’ campaign in Afghanistan and elsewhere. 
Building on the example of the Taliban’s emirate, Zawahiri argues that “sincere” scholars and mujahideen should cultivate unity among the public, while warning against those who sow divisions and justify the spilling of Muslim blood. Zawahiri says al Qaeda wants to “unite” the ummah, as this would strike fear in the hearts of their enemies. “Unity” will lead to “victory” and is the “solid foundation” necessary for resurrecting the caliphate. 
Part of al Qaeda’s pro-Taliban, anti-Islamic State messaging
It is not surprising that Zawahiri invests his hopes for the future in the Taliban’s Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. 
Following in the steps of bin Laden, Zawahiri has repeatedly sworn his allegiance to the Taliban’s emir. 
In June 2016, Zawahiri pledged his fealty to Hibatullah Akhundzada, who was named the successor to Mullah Mansour. The al Qaeda honcho had previously sworn allegiance to Mansour, who was killed in May 2016. Mansour publicly welcomed Zawahiri’s gesture. And Zawahiri had pledged his loyalty to Mullah Omar before that. 
Indeed, al Qaeda increasingly marketed its allegiance to Taliban founder Mullah Omar as the Islamic State rose to prominence in 2014, portraying the Taliban’s Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan as a religiously legitimate entity, unlike Baghdadi’s project. This should have been more than mildly embarrassing for al Qaeda, given that Mullah Omar was dead at the time when Zawahiri and others were pointing to him as the rightful “Emir of the Believers.” But al Qaeda persisted. 
In Sept. 2014, Zawahiri announced the creation of Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), the newest branch of his international organization. One of AQIS’s “major objectives” is “strengthening the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, defending it, and bringing stability to it.” In its “code of conduct,” AQIS stressed that it is loyal to the Taliban’s emir by virtue of its fealty to Zawahiri. Other al Qaeda branches have made the same point, noting that their emirs are loyal to the Taliban through their oaths of allegiance to Zawahiri. 
In al Qaeda’s scheme, each of its regional branches is waging jihad to build new Islamic nations, with the Taliban’s emirate being central to its long-term plans. The Taliban’s Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is the nucleus of a new caliphate, as al Qaeda’s leaders envision it. As a result, AQIS’s men fight under the Islamic Emirate’s banner, as their main priority in Afghanistan is to eject foreign forces and help the Taliban capture more ground. US and Afghan forces regularly target al Qaeda figureswho are supporting the Taliban-led insurgency. 
In a recent report, a team of UN analysts assessed that al Qaeda’s “alliance” with the Taliban “remains firm,” as the two are still “closely allied” after 17 years of war. On this point, the UN’s assessment is consistent with FDD’s Long War Journal’s analysis. 
As Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s claim to rule over a caliphate slips away, the Taliban and its allies contest or control more ground now than at any point since late 2001. With the US looking to negotiate its way out of the Afghan War, al Qaeda’s leader may sense a victory in Afghanistan is closer at hand today than in previous years. And Zawahiri is hoping that the Taliban’s Islamic Emirate becomes the crown jewel in a new caliphate.
Monday   27 August 2018 / Hour 1, Block B: Tom Joscelyn, Long War Journal and FDD; and Bill Roggio, Long War Journal and FDD; in re: Two of the most senior al Q leaders are operating in Iran. (Al Q in Iran: bin Laden’s relatives lived there for years. Bush and Obama went along with it. )   Theoretically were under hose arrest, or some form of detention.  In 2015, al Q kidnapped an Iranian dipl and exchanged him for a bunch of al Q elders in Iran. A UN report from late July says the two  have been playing an important role, managing al fro ran. “Core facilitation pipeline” in Iran.  (Country Reports on Terrorism from UN)  There are 3,500 to 4,000 ISIS members in Afghanistan. A high multiple from its founding.
Terrorist designations: ISIS beheadings in SE Asia.  Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines.   Get cash and help from the mother ship.
Vid: Afgh base overrun by Taliban. Taliban fighters loiter on the Allahuddin military base in Baghlan-e Markazi district, which it overran last week. Note how casual the Taliban fighters are, walking around in broad daylight. The Taliban killed 45 Afghan security personnel. Video edited not to show bodies of ANSDF.
Taliban video shows fighters on captured Afghan base in Baghlan /   /  Have a look:
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The US government has repeatedly identified al Qaeda’s leadership in Iran. From left to right: Yasin al Suri, Atiyah Abd al Rahman, Sanafi al Nasr, Muhsin al Fadhli and Adel Radi al Harbi. Only Yasin al Suri is believed to be alive, but still others continue to operate in Iran.
Since July 2011, the US Treasury and State Departments have repeatedly stated that the Iranian regime allows al Qaeda to maintain a key facilitation network on its soil. This formerly clandestine network is the result of a specific “agreement” between the Iranian government and al Qaeda’s leadership.
On July 19, the State Department once again pointed to the relationship. “Since at least 2009,” State’s Country Reports on Terrorism 2016 reads, “Iran has allowed AQ facilitators to operate a core facilitation pipeline through the country, enabling AQ to move funds and fighters to South Asia and Syria.”
Iran also “remained unwilling to bring to justice senior al-Qa’ida (AQ) members it continued to detain and has refused to publicly identify the members in its custody,” Foggy Bottom said, echoing language found in previous reports.
In its terrorism reports for 2015 and 2014, the State Department implied that al Qaeda’s Iran-based network was a thing of the past, saying the Iranian government “previously allowed AQ facilitators to operate.” But Country Reports on Terrorism 2016, released last week, subtly revised that language.
It is often assumed that the two sides can’t cooperate because of theological differences. However, the relationship has been repeatedly documented by official sources, such as the 9/11 Commission, US courts, intelligence agencies and various others. At times, al Qaeda itself has conceded that there is a level of collusion, despite the group’s blistering anti-Iranian rhetoric. A key al Qaeda defector offered his own explanation of the arrangement in a newsletter published by the Islamic State. After the Islamic State and al Qaeda became bitter rivals, the so-called caliphate even accused al Qaeda of prohibiting terrorist attacks inside Iran.
A document presumably authored by Osama bin Laden in 2007 refers to Iran as al Qaeda’s “main artery for funds, personnel, and communication.” That same letter referred to the “hostages” held by Iran, meaning those al Qaeda figures who were held in some form of detention and not allowed to freely operate. Bin Laden was not against attacking Iran in principle; he simply did not think the costs of such action were worth it.
Iran’s relationship with al Qaeda has survived for years, despite numerous disagreements and conflicts between the two. For instance, one file recovered in bin Laden’s Abbottabad lair shows that he was troubled by Iran’s attempt to expand across the Middle East and he conceived of a plan to combat the Shiite jihadists’ growing footprint. Al Qaeda has also kidnapped Iranian diplomats in order force hostage exchanges. Several high-level al Qaeda leaders were reportedly released as part of one such exchange in 2015, although their status beforehand inside Iran was murky.
Most importantly, the two sides are clearly at odds in Syria and Yemen, where they have fought each other and affiliated proxies for several years.
Yet, throughout all of this, Iran has allowed al Qaeda to maintain a key facilitation hub.
In July 2016, for instance, the US Treasury Department sanctioned three senior al Qaeda leaders “located in Iran.” One of them, Faisal Jassim Mohammed Al Amri Al Khalidi (a.k.a. Abu Hamza al Khalidi), has served as al Qaeda’s “Military Commission Chief” — meaning he was one of the most important figures in the group’s international network. Al Khalidi was identified in Osama bin Laden’s files as part of a “new generation” of leadership al Qaeda groomed to replace their fallen comrades. As Treasury’s July 2016 designations made clear, some of al Qaeda’s most important men continued to operate inside Iran. [See FDD’s Long War Journal report, Treasury designates 3 senior al Qaeda members in Iran.]
Monday   27 August 2018 / Hour 1, Block C: Gordon Chang, Daily Beast, in re:  A low-levl Chinese delegation arrived in DC to speak with David Malpass; left. No significant progress in discussions w Pres Trump on trade.  With Mexico, a rewrite of the [treaty].  Chinese came not intending actually to deal.  Don't understand that not just Trump but everyone has a new view of Chinese predations in trade.  Appears that XI will prosecute the the trade war in he only style he knows: full-bore. But elders in the Party are worried about that. In the long term China cannot afford [to lose] the United States.  Trying to grow their way out of their grave economic predicament, bld roads & railroads, and hope.  Two projects: Belt and Road; and Made in China 2025: producing MRI machines & the like.  Violates WTO regs by having numbers in mind for China’s share of the market.  The whole Belt and Road was unsustainable from the beginning. RMB/yuan is weakening; intentional? I don't think so.   If it goes  over 7 yuan to the dollar, cash will flood out of the country in a spate of no confidence.  US is knitting up agreements with friends, preparing for a long struggle with China.  Chinese are legitimately afraid.  . . .  Looks as though foreign investment may start to dwindle/dry up.   CIFIUS, NDA: China will be iced out of the US, as it is being right now out of Europe. Chinese mil not likely to challenge Xi ; the worry is that Xi will use the mil to distract the populace from their travails – [provocation] in Taiwan, India, Japan.  China has creed an alliance of nations opposed to it.
Monday   27 August 2018 / Hour 1, Block D: Josh Rogin, Washington Post, in re:  Sen McCain. He embraced the word “maverick.”  He pressed forward relentlessly.  Had a huge impact on the direction of national security policies. Was a major proponent of Iraq invasion (which did not work out well) and of the Surge (which did work out well). He travelled to far-off places, met with dissidents and opposition leaders, spoke harshly to tyrants.  Had an adopted daughter from Bangladesh; his opponents claimed she was an African-American love child, which was a ferocious lie.  . . . The Senate makes you a king. His mentors were Mo Udall, Scoop Jackson, and others: from them he learned that one Senator can be extremely effective.  In South Carolina, he refused to comment on whether or not the Confederate flag should have been flown; he regretted that for years. 
Hour Two
Monday   27 August 2018 / Hour 2, Block A:  David M Drucker, Washington Examiner, & John Fund, NRO, in re: John McCain: Donald Trump treated him viciously. However, as the DC establishment lionizes him: he cozied up to the establishment and very much was part of it. DMD: I covered John McCain; a character who understood how to use the levers of power in the Senate. Knew how to talk to the press. Had the power to influence the direction of the govt. Was talkative.  JF: Senate Armed Svcs chairman: he was too interventionist sometimes, but left the country stronger. He had no patience with chiselling defense contractors.  DMD: Essential to know how to wield power effectively. JF:  Was good at appealing to his lead constituency – the media.  He was not popular with GOP in Arizona but was popular with the Democrats there.  At the end, he was urging Congress to take back its power [from the Executive].
Monday   27 August 2018 / Hour 2, Block B:  John Fund, NRO, & David M Drucker, Washington Examiner, in re: Paul Manafort confession.  Watching a special council is like watching the Vatican for smoke to emerge.  Mueller is ranging further afield, looking into Trump organization, and to countries where the rule of law is a concept, not a reality.  This is all about 2020.  DMD: Mueller team has been careful; leaks from people questioned, not from him or his team. I’ve never thought that Trump colluded with Moscow to sway the election. Possible that persons associated with the campaign did shenanigans. 
Mexico rewrite of NAFTA, and NASDAQ went through 8,000. Puts enormous pressure on Justin Trudeau. 
Monday   27 August 2018 / Hour 2, Block C:  Malcolm Hoenlein, Conference of Presidents, in re: Palestinians: bad actins led to US cutting $200mil, in response to terrorism; looks as though that was all that was holding the PA together. Abbas is tone-deaf, esp after the Taylor Force Act. Israeli Finance Ministry plans to bld joint industrial areas; big obstacle is Abbas, himself:; trying to introduce a censure of Isr in the UN; no leadership of  his own people, Uses courts to subvert rather than help his own people,  Hamas continues provocations.   Turkey. Ergdogan sees himself as the world Sunni leader; challenges Jordan’s role in Jerusalem. North: Nasrallah (Hezb) in conversation with Houthis, for guidance and assistance and money.  Trying to bld a mutual support network, Iran can't give enough money. Houthis intend to imitate the Hezbollah model in Yemen. 
Nasrallah claims complete deterrence vs. Israel’s attacks.  Iran’s defense minister is in Syria.  Aid pkg of $28mil – not enough to bail Iran out of its financial mess. Militias in Syria: Iranians fighting Assad on Syrian-Iraqi border! Shiite Crescent. 
Princeton Lyman: 82, an American diplomat. Parents were immigrants, named children after universities. Served in S Africa, trusted by de Klerk and Mandela.  Took many Ethiopian Jews to Israel.  In a dramatic secret operation, a US C130 managed to get 500 Ethiopians to safety.  Had to fly along the Red Sea to avoid Egyptian radar. Brilliant American pilots.  / High-precision missiles can strike within 10 feet.   (CEP of ten feet.)
Monday   27 August 2018 / Hour 2, Block D:  Indiana Hoenlein, Conference of Presidents, in re:  Indiana Hoenlein meets the Titanic.  In 1912.  Watch face auctioned today had numerals in Hebrew, depiction of Moses holding the tablets.  Given to Miriam Cantor at age 24 who, with her husband, Sinai Cantor, both young physicians were travelling from Byelorus to the US. Titanic had a kosher kitchen! Husband perished; years later, his watch, notebook were returned to Miriam Cantor.  Watch will go to a display. Uri Geller: he who bends spoons is bldg a museum in Israel.   He pointed to a pile of rubble in a corner – archaeologists found an ancient soap factory there. Soap took ten days to cook; then it was stamped and made into bars.  Large cauldrons.  He intuited all of it and so could point to it. 
Hour Three
Monday 27 August 2018/ Hour 3, Block A: Charles Pellegrino, adventurer and author, Last Train from Hiroshima; in re:  Survivors of both Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings – and one fellow who survived both of those, then Agent Orange in Vietnam, and then Ground Zero in Manhattan.
Monday 27 August 2018/ Hour 3, Block B:  Christian Whiton, D.C. International Advisory, & senior Fellow for strategy and public diplomacy at the Center for the National Interest, in re:  NAFTA
Monday 27 August 2018/ Hour 3, Block C:  Andrew C McCarthy, NRO, and former  Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, in re: Russiagate
Monday 27 August 2018/ Hour 3, Block D:  Andrew C McCarthy, NRO, and former  Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, in re: Russiagate
Hour Four
Monday 27 August 2018/ Hour 4, Block A: Peter McCloud, Northern Armageddon.
Monday 27 August 2018/ Hour 4, Block B: Peter McCloud, Northern Armageddon.
Monday 27 August 2018/ Hour 4, Block C:  Lee E Ohanian, Professor of Economics, UCLA;  Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution; in re: The Mexico-US trade deal.
Monday 27 August 2018/ Hour 4, Block D:  Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, in re: NASA
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Air pollution causes ‘huge’ reduction in intelligence, study reveals
Impact of high levels of toxic air ‘is equivalent to having lost a year of education’  By Lily Kuo
Impact of high levels of toxic air ‘is equivalent to having lost a year of education’
Air pollution causes a “huge” reduction in intelligence, according to new research, indicating that the damage to society of toxic air is far deeper than the well-known impacts on physical health.
The research was conducted in China but is relevant across the world, with 95% of the global population breathing unsafe air. It found that high pollution levels led to significant drops in test scores in language and arithmetic, with the average impact equivalent to having lost a year of the person’s education.
“Polluted air can cause everyone to reduce their level of education by one year, which is huge,” said Xi Chen at Yale School of Public Health in the US, a member of the research team. “But we know the effect is worse for the elderly, especially those over 64, and for men, and for those with low education. If we calculate [the loss] for those, it may be a few years of education.”
Previous research has found that air pollution harms cognitive performance in students, but this is the first to examine people of all ages and the difference between men and women.
The damage in intelligence was worst for those over 64 years old, with serious consequences, said Chen: “We usually make the most critical financial decisions in old age.” Rebecca Daniels, from the UK public health charity Medact, said: “This report’s findings are extremely worrying.”
Air pollution causes seven million premature deaths a year but the harm to people’s mental abilities is less well known. A recent study found toxic air was linked to “extremely high mortality” in people with mental disorders and earlier work linked it to increased mental illness in children, while another analysis found those living near busy roads had an increased risk of dementia.
The new work, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, analysed language and arithmetic tests conducted as part of the China Family Panel Studies on 20,000 people across the nation between 2010 and 2014. The scientists compared the test results with records of nitrogen dioxide and sulphur dioxide pollution.
They found the longer people were exposed to dirty air, the bigger the damage to intelligence, with language ability more harmed than mathematical ability and men more harmed than women. The researchers said this may result from differences in how male and female brains work.
Derrick Ho, at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, said the impact of air pollution on cognition was important and his group had similar preliminary findings in their work. “It is because high air pollution can potentially be associated with oxidative stress, neuroinflammation, and neurodegeneration of humans,” he said.
Chen said air pollution was most likely to be the cause of the loss of intelligence, rather than simply being a correlation. The study followed the same individuals as air pollution varied from one year to the next, meaning that many other possible causal factors such as genetic differences are automatically accounted for.
The scientists also accounted for the gradual decline in cognition seen as people age and ruled out people being more impatient or uncooperative during tests when pollution was high.
Air pollution was seen to have a short-term impact on intelligence as well and Chen said this could have important consequences, for example for students who have to take crucial entrance exams on polluted days.
“But there is no shortcut to solve this issue,” he said. “Governments really need to take concrete measures to reduce air pollution. That may benefit human capital, which is one of the most important driving forces of economic growth.” In China, air pollution is declining but remains three times above World Health Organisation (WHO) limits.
According to the WHO, 20 of the world’s most polluted cities are in developing countries. China, home to several of those cities, has been engaged in a “war against pollution” for the past five years.
The results would apply around the world, Chen added. The damage to intelligence was likely to be incremental, he said, with a 1mg rise in pollution over three years equivalent to losing more than a month of education. Small pollution particles are known to be especially damaging. “That is the same wherever you live. As human beings we have more in common than is different.”
Aarash Saleh, a registrar in respiratory medicine in the UK and part of the Doctors Against Diesel campaign, said: “This study adds to the concerning bank of evidence showing that exposure to air pollution can worsen our cognitive function. Road traffic is the biggest contributor to air pollution in residential areas and the government needs to act urgently to remove heavily-polluting vehicles from our roads.”
Daniels said: “The UK’s air is illegally polluted and is harming people’s health every day. Current policies are not up to the scale of the challenge: government must commit to bringing air pollution below legal limits as soon as possible.”