Below is a different take on ISIS than
will be found in the echo chamber of the US media.
would add to the following that our de-Baathization of Iraq after our invasion also helped to create
ISIS and the inevitable civil war in Iraq--and
also the emboldening of Iran.
Some Baathists were indeed brutal party loyalists to Saddam Hussein's
Sunni minority party. However, many joined the party to get work and
government sinecure. The Sunnis
were the educated and industrious elites who knew how to run the power grid,
pick up the garbage and otherwise provide municipal and state
services. They lost their jobs
en masse. To seek retribution,
they are now commanders in ISIS.
related note, mostly gone unnoticed in the echo chamber, the military
government of Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have bombed the rebels
in Libya who are led by
a general who is an ally of ours and also supported by Turkey
Qatar, like Saudi Arabia
(another ally of ours), is a major provider of financial support to terrorists.
Trying to get an
accurate picture of the Middle East is like
trying to put together a jigsaw puzzle that has 10,000 pieces but with many of
the pieces missing.
The "Sunni Turn"
Against The "Shiite Crescent": How The Strategic Stupidity
Of Washington And Its Allies Created ISIS
Raimondo ? August
step back from the hysteria generated by the beheading of US
journalist James Foley, what's clear is that this new bogeyman is the creation
of the United States
and its allies in the region.
didn't just arise out of the earth like some Islamist variation on thefabled Myrmidons: they
needed money, weapons, logistics, propaganda facilities, and international
connections to reach the relatively high level of organization and lethality
they seem to have achieved in such a short period of time. Where did they get
of this is any secret: Saudi
the oil-rich Gulf states have been backing them all the way. Prince Bandar al-Sultan,until recently the head of the Kingdom's intelligence
agency ? and still the chief of its National Security Council ? has been among
their biggest backers. Qatar
and the Gulf states have also been generous in their support for the Syrian
jihadists who were too
to openly back. Although pressure from Washington ? only
recently exerted ? has reportedly forced them to cut
off the aid, ISIS is now an accomplished fact ? and how can anyone say that
support has entirely evaporated instead of merely going underground?
Washington's responsibility for the success of ISIS
is less direct, but no less damning.
The US was in a de facto alliance with the groups that merged to
form ISIS ever since President Barack Obama declared Syria's Bashar
al-Assad "must go" ? and Washington started
funding Syrian rebel
composition and leadership kept changing. By funding the Free
Syrian Army (FSA),
Syrian Islamists, this administration has actively worked to defeat the only
forces capable of rooting out ISIS from its Syrian nest ? Assad's
Ba'athist government. Millions of dollars in
overt aid ? and who knows how much covertly? ? were pumped into the FSA. How muchof
that seeped into the coffers of ISIS
when constantly forming and re-forming chameleon-like rebel groups defected
from the FSA? These defectors didn't
just go away: they joined
up with more
and militarily effective ? Islamist militias, some of which undoubtedly found
their way to ISIS.
many ISIS cadres who started out in the FSA were trained and equipped by
American "advisors" in neighboring Jordan? We'll never know the exact
answer to that question, but the number is very likely not zero ? and this Mother Jones piece shows that, at least under the
Clinton-Petraeus duo, the "vetting" process was a joke. Furthermore, Senator
Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) may well have been on to something when he confronted Hillary with the contention that some of the
arms looted from Gaddafi's arsenals may well have reached the Syrian rebels. There was, after all, the question of where that
ship," the Al Entisar, carrying "humanitarian aid" to the Syrian rebels
headquartered in Turkey, sailed
the open backing by the US
of particular Syrian rebel groups no doubt discredited
the eyes of most Islamist types, driving them away from the FSA and into the
arms of ISIS. When it became clear Washington wasn't going to provide air support for rebel
actions on the ground, these guys left the FSA in droves ? and swelled the ranks
of groups that eventually coalesced into ISIS.
Thirdly, the one silent partner in all this has been the state of
While there is no evidence of direct Israeli backing, the public statements of
some top Israeli officials lead one to believe Tel
Aviv has little interest in stopping the ISIS threat ? except, of course, to
to step deeper into the Syrian quagmire.
recent public event held at the Aspen Institute, former Israeli ambassador to
the US Michael Oren bluntly stated that in any struggle between the Sunni
jihadists and their Iranian Shi'ite enemies, the former are the "lesser evil." They're all "bad guys," says
Oren, but "we always wanted Bashar Assad to go,
we always preferred the bad guys who weren't backed by Iran to the bad guys who were backed by Iran." Last
year, Sima Shine, Israel's
Minister of Strategic Affairs, declared:
"The alternative, whereby [Assad falls and] Jihadists
flock to Syria,
is not good. We have no good options in Syria. But Assad remaining along
with the Iranians is worse. His ouster would exert immense pressure on Iran."
of this should come as much of a surprise to anyone who has been following Israel's
machinations in the region. It has long been known that the Israelis have been
standing very close to the sidelines of the Syrian civil war, gloating and
hoping for "no outcome," as this New York Timespiece put it.
Israel's goal in the region has been to gin up as much conflict
and chaosas possible, keeping its Islamic
enemies divided, making it impossible for any credible challenge to arise among
its Arab neighbors ? and aiming the main blow at Tehran.
As Ambassador Oren so brazenly asserted ? while paying lip service to the
awfulness of ISIS and al-Qaeda ? their quarrel isn't really with the Arabs,
anyway ? it's with the Persians,
whom they fear and loathe, and whose destruction has been their number one
objective since the
days of Ariel Sharon.
anyone is shocked that our Middle Eastern allies have been building up Sunni
radicals in the region is beyond me ? because this has also been de facto US policy since
the Bush administration, which began recruiting American assets in the Sunni
region as the linchpin of the Iraqi "surge." This
was part and parcel of the so-called "Sunni turn,"
in Seymour Hersh's phrase, which, as I
warned in 2006, would become Washington's
chosen strategy for dealing with what they called the "Shia
crescent" ? the crescent-shaped territory
spanning Iran, Iraq, Syria, and parts of Lebanon under Hezbollah's control,
which the neocons beganpointing
the Big New Threat shortly after
Saddam Hussein's defeat.
The pro-Sunni orientation of US policymakers wasn't reversed with
the change of administrations: instead, it went into overdrive, especially
after the much-vaunted Arab Spring. Both Hillary Clinton, then Secretary of
State, and David Petraeus, who had
yet to disgrace himself and was still CIA director, lobbied
more support to the Syrian rebels. The
Sunni Turn took a fateful turn when
Harpies of the Apocalypse? Hillary, Susan Rice,
and now UN ambassador Samantha Power ? hectored
pursuing regime change in Libya.
In this case the US
and its NATO allies acted as the Islamist militia's
air force while supplying them with arms on the ground and diplomatic support
even as Libya was imploding from the effects of its "liberation,"
the neocons and their "liberal" interventionist allies in the Democratic party
? and in the highest reaches of the Obama administration ? were building
support for yet another fateful "Sunni turn," this time in Syria. Caving
to this pressure, the Obama administration decided to act on accusations of poison gas
supposedly used by Assad against the rebels to directly intervene with a
bombing campaign modeled along Libyan lines. Only ahuge public outcry stopped them.
could never have been consolidated in the form it has now taken without the
strategic disaster of Washington's
"Sunni turn." While the US
may have reason to regret this harebrained strategy, it's far too late for that
? and it looks to me like our "allies" in the region, including Israel, aren't
about to turn on a dime at Obama's command.
year around this time Vladimir Putin very publicly warned against the scenario we are seeing
unfold in the Middle East:
Assad goes today, a political vacuum emerges ? who will fill it? Maybe those
terrorist organizations. Nobody wants this ? but how can it be avoided? After
all, they are armed and aggressive."
that Putin's prediction has come to pass, we're too busy confronting
? and dreaming
of the day we
can do to him what we did to Assad ? to acknowledge it. But you can hear the
gears of our policymaking machine screaming in protest as Washington does an
starts cooperating with Assad ? previously denounced as the latest edition of Adolph Hitler
? by sharing intelligence enabling the Syrian army to target ISIS positions.
have always been at war with Eurasia. Or is
that Eastasia? I
The lesson of all this?
tangled web we weave when first we practice to intervene. And deceive ? this
administration has not only been lying to the American people about the
nature of the Syrian "liberators" we've been funding with their tax dollars,
they also been deceiving themselves. The
Sunni Turn has turned on them, and
with a vengeance.
The ancient Greeks had a word for the particular sin committed by
our political class: they called it hubris?
a mindset generated by the belief that humankind can defy the gods and get away
with it. Yet the divine pantheon of Olympus
had a way of giving these malefactors their comeuppance: they sent the goddess Nemesis to avenge such sacrilege ? and she was
relentless in her pursuit. The word nemesis has come down to us to mean "the inescapable agent of someone's or
something's downfall" ? and that is as succinct an explanation of the origins
of ISIS as we are likely to come across.
so the anti-interventionists told us so ? but now what? What should the United States do about ISIS
now that they've taken over half of Syria
and a third of Iraq?
The answer is: let Assad,
and, yes, the
care of it, since they are the states directly threatened by the growth of the
so-called Islamic State. Why should we fight their war for them?
to the War Party's hebephrenic appeals to intervene, inaction on
our part is key to the destruction of ISIS. The Grand Caliph of the Islamic State would
like nothing more than to be able to portray ISIS as the
valiant opponent of a US
reentry into the region. It would be atremendous
propaganda victory for them to be able to frame their
cause in this context because the result would be a successful international
recruiting drive that would fill the ranks of the Islamic State's army even as
hundreds are killed by US drones and missile strikes.
letting nature take its course and permitting Iraq's
predatory neighbors to gobble up the charred remains of the Iraqi state we destroyed,
we can solve a problem we created in the first place, albeit not without
incurring the inevitable cost of our initial error ? which was invading Iraq in the
ISIS has made
a big deal out of declaring the end of the Sykes-Picot
agreement, which divided the region between
British and French interests at the end of World War I. Having declared their
"Islamic State," ISIS claims to have destroyed the status quo by militarily ?
and, to much notice,
symbolically ? erasing the border between Syria
The claim is laughable: a
ragtag"army" of perhaps 17,000 fighters couldn't have achieved that without
some significant outside help, not only from the Saudis and the Qataris but,
decisively, from Washington.
abolished Sykes-Picot by effectively putting an
Iraqi statehood. The process was
completed when Washington subsequently allied
with Iraq's Sunni
a vain hope to avoid the break up of Iraq and drive Al Qaeda out of the
country. What happened, instead, was that the Sunni tribesmen's brothers across
the by-then-virtually-nonexistent border were drawn into the Iraqi arena, where
up the fightagainst Baghdad ? and their American backers.
didn't blast Sykes-Picot to pieces: we did, and now we must live with the
consequences. Nemesis has taken her pound of flesh.
The best course now is to learn the lesson every child has to
absorb before he can attain adulthood in more than merely a physical sense:actions have consequences. Applied to the Middle
East, this lesson can only have one meaning: stay out and keep