Can We Afford Such Success?

Gaziantep

According to The Hill newspaper, the White House says its war on ISIS is succeeding: hate to see what failing would look like.

Let’s do a quick rundown: ISIS is advancing in Iraq’s Anbar province, they are close to taking Baghdad airport or at least are in range to bomb it; they are launching suicide bombing runs on the capital; for all the favorable Western press the Pesh (and Iraqis) have made no serious advances since the Mosul Dam; the Iraqi army (which we spent a fortune on) remains in disarray; Kobani is holding on by dint of an extraordinary stand by YPG fighters; the Turkish-Kurdish peace process is on the brink of collapse; Assad is taking advantage; the Syrian rebels are demoralized and ignored; the Syrians feel they are being sacrificed, which they are. Did I leave anything out?

How About Sacking UK Border Agency Officials and Penalizing the Airlines?

What is happening at Heathrow airport – from the airlines to the UK Border Agency? A 15-year-old girl, Yusra Hussien, apparently accompanied by a 17-year-old flies off from Heathrow to Istanbul (not entirely clear whether they went on a direct flight) and no one questions them and checks with their parents first? Here is a link to an ITV report about the case. But this is the second time we know of where a youngster flew off from Heathrow to join ISIS without an eyebrow being raised at the airport.

The other case concerns Ibrahim Kamara, a 19-year-old from Brighton. He traveled on his 15-year-old brother’s passport and not a question raised. One way to get people to sit up at Heathrow would be to sack some of the top Border Agency officials at the airport and to fine the airlines involved colossal amounts – or if there is no law on the books to allow that to happen to pass one.

Kobani Kurds Hold On

SURUÇ, Turkey—He gazes at the photograph of his daughter Evan on his cellphone as he offers to let me look. She is 18 years old with long dark wavy hair. It isn’t a snapshot but a more formally posed picture. The girl has lively eyes, a pleasant smile. It was taken shortly before she left a note for her parents telling them she was crossing the border into Syria to join the Kurdish defense militia, the YPG. That was six months ago and last week she contacted him and explained she was fighting the militants of the Islamic State in the besieged town of Kobani.

My latest piece for the Daily Beast can be read here.