Friday, September 26, 2014

Is this war real?

From the beginning, I've said that the war against ISIS would not be a war against ISIS. It would be a war against Assad disguised as a war against ISIS.

Now, I'm not so sure. There's more than one way to look at this situation.

Evidence that the war is a huge fake-out: Undeniably, the United States and its allies have encouraged the rise of Al Qaeda-linked jihadists in various countries. We even armed these Islamists with weapons stolen from stores in Libya. (That is the real Benghazi scandal -- the one that the Republicans will never talk about.) John Kerry now calls these jihadi fighters "criminals." Yet he was perfectly willing to pal around with the Saudis who bankrolled all of this criminality.

Why would the Saudis do such a thing? And why would our own government help the Saudis do such a thing?

All of the players in this game (the United States, the Saudis, Turkey, etc.) have their own reasons for aiding jihad. The Israeli motivation was laid out by former ambassador Michael Oren -- and yes, I am going to publish this quote once again, because it's that important:
"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.” He said this was the case even if the other “bad guys” were affiliated with al-Qaeda.
The original version of Al Qaeda was itself, in large measure, a creation of the CIA's war against the Soviets in Afghanistan. In our perpetual search for proxy warriors, we have a habit of unleashing forces we cannot control.

Moreover, no-one can deny that the war against ISIS has dramatically weakened Assad. The jihadis have taken Syrian military stores and destroyed Syrian air bases. Falsely ascribing a sarin attack to Assad resulted in a deal to eliminate his chemical weapons stockpiles.

Even if every ISIS fighter were to disappear within the next three minutes, they have already done their task, from the U.S. point of view. They have left Assad wide open and vulnerable, should we choose to attack him.

The Iranians (hardly a disinterested party, of course) are claiming that they have footage of "Takfiri" terrorists training in the Golan Heights, occupied by Israel. "Takfiri" is a Muslim-on-Muslim term of insult; in this case, it refers to ISIS and/or Nusra.
Regarding the video, Press TV News Director Hamid Reza Emadi said people in the Middle East “are wondering why the Takfiri terrorists only kill Muslims and Christians in Iraq and Syria, but do not act against Israel’s interests.”
Yeah, but. Even if we take this video at face value, it speaks only to the situation on the day the footage was taken. And as we shall see, attitudes may have changed -- very rapidly and very recently.

It is, however, true that, just a few days ago, Israel shot down a Syrian fighter which had flown into Golan airspace. American audiences have been told that the jet had "infiltrated" Israeli airspace by accident -- an absurd suggestion. The Syrian government said that the jet was going after al-Nusra fighters in Israeli territory, a claim which has the advantage of conforming with common sense.

In other words: The United States flew into another country's airspace to bomb Nusra (or "Khorasan," as we are now supposed to call it). But when the Syrians did the exact same thing, their jet was shot down.

Here's another indicator: Turkey has given safe haven to fleeing ISIS fighters. In fact, there is something of an economic boom in Turkish border towns, thanks to these refugees. Even as the Turks have welcomed ISIS, they have repelled the Kurds.

Andrew Tabler has said that the likely outcome (read: goal) of the war against ISIS is to partition Syria into three: A Kurdish state, a Shiite state, and a "Sunni center." Although Tabler won't admit it, that "Sunni center" will be a land of nightmares.

Our self-appointed foreign policy "savants" have been pontificating about a Syrian partition for years now -- see, for example, here and here.

Of course, any partition would be incredibly bloody, chaotic and disastrous. The partition of India and Pakistan left millions of people dead and resulted in a perpetual cold war between the two countries. The current Israel/Palestine conflict may be considered the result of a partition (of sorts). How well did that work out?

So that's the argument. That's why many people think that this war against ISIS is actually a cover for a war against Assad. One train may hide another.

But now that we've examined the evidence for the "grand fake-out" theory, let's take a gander at...

Evidence that the war against ISIS is real. Frankly, I was stunned by the attack on Nusra. So were a lot of other people

It was sold to the American public as an attack on a brand-new threat called Khorasan. Moon of Alabama says that this new bogeyman, Khorasan, is "as fake as the Kardashians's physiques." M of A quotes Agence France-Presse:
But experts and activists cast doubt on the distinction between Khorasan and Al-Nusra Front, which is Al-Qaeda’s Syrian branch.

“In Syria, no one had ever heard talk of Khorasan until the US media brought it up,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, director of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

“Rebels, activists and the whole world knows that these positions (hit Tuesday) were Al-Nusra positions, and the fighters killed were Al-Nusra fighters,” added Abdel Rahman, who has tracked the Syrian conflict since it erupted in 2011.
Aron Lund, editor of the Syria in Crisis website run by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, raised similar doubts.

“The fact that news about this Al-Qaeda-run, anti-Western cell linked to Al-Nusra emerged just over a week ago, through US intelligence leaks — well, it’s certainly an interesting coincidence,” he told AFP.
This is extremely significant.

This humble blog has joined with many other voices in trying to warn the world that our Saudi and Qatari allies pretty much created the Nusra front (just as they also created ISIS). The most important lesson to be learned here comes from a McClatchy story which seems to be no longer online, though M of A and other bloggers have quoted it...
Raad Alawi, the commander of a smaller group of fighters, the Squadrons of Al Haq, told McClatchy he was very angry.

“Starting the war with the bombing of Nusra is an indication that this is a war against the revolution and not [ISIS] … “Maybe next they will bomb the bases of the Free Syrian Army.”
A war against the revolution.

What conclusions shall we draw from this?

I suspect that there has been a very sudden shift in attitude. Maybe the Israelis have decided that they would rather have a relatively sane dictator like Assad on their border, as opposed to a state run by Sunni crazies.

When you think about it, the Israelis would have to be truly psychotic to want Saudi Arabia (a temporary partner which isn't really an ally) on one side and the Islamic State on the other.

That brings us to the larger question: Why were the Israelis willing to risk that situation? The answer is simple. Grim, but simple.

The Israelis want rid of the current governments of Syria and Iran because those governments fund the Palestinians. That's the ultimate reason for all of these wars: Israel wants to make life for the Palestinians unbearable. Israel can't slaughter the Palestinians outright -- although it seems that a growing number of Israelis would like to go the "Final Solution" route. It would be better for Israel if the Palestinians simply went away.

Iran and Syria have kept the Palestinians alive, and have thus kept hope alive for a two-state solution. The Israelis want a single-state solution -- a single state containing only a few non-Jews. If pursuit of that goal means working with Al Qaeda-linked crazies and stirring up a Sunni-Shiite war, so be it.

Only recently -- as in, the last few weeks -- has the Big Problem with this plan become apparent: At the end of the day, this strategy would leave Israel surrounded by maniacs who are so extreme as to make Osama Bin Laden look like a pansy.

Bob Parry has documented the change in thinking. First, he reports that Obama is quietly working with Assad:
The Obama administration, working through the Russian government, has secured an agreement from the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad to permit U.S. airstrikes against Islamic State targets in parts of Syria, according to a source briefed on the secret arrangements.

The reported agreement would clear away one of the chief obstacles to President Barack Obama’s plan to authorize U.S. warplanes to cross into Syria to attack Islamic State forces – the concern that entering Syrian territory might prompt anti-aircraft fire from the Syrian government’s missile batteries.
Yet, this secret collaboration may go even further and include Syrian government assistance in the targeting of the U.S. attacks, according to the source who spoke on condition of anonymity. That is another feature of U.S. military protocol in conducting air strikes – to have some on-the-ground help in pinpointing the attacks.
Parry also reports that Israel has engaged in some heavy re-thinking:
More recently, however, with the al-Qaeda-connected Nusra Front having seized Syrian territory adjacent to the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights – forcing the withdrawal of UN peacekeepers – the balance of Israeli interests may be tipping in favor of preferring Assad to having Islamic extremists possibly penetrating directly into Israeli territory.

Direct attacks on Israel would be a temptation to al-Nusra Front, which is competing for the allegiance of young jihadists with the Islamic State. While the Islamic State, known by the acronyms ISIS or ISIL, has captured the imaginations of many youthful extremists by declaring the creation of a “caliphate” with the goal of driving Western interests from the Middle East, al-Nusra could trump that appeal by actually going on the offensive against one of the jihadists’ principal targets, Israel.
Nevertheless, neocons still insist on "regime change" in Syria.

It's important to keep in mind that the neocon movement, like all other movements, has factions -- and Israel is hardly in control of the whole shebang. For that matter, the Israeli government also has factions.

The United States, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar all have their own reasons for wanting Assad to go. They are not going to give up on that goal -- but they may be willing to put it on hold.

I think that the "Army of the Vetted" now training in Saudi Arabia will never see action against ISIS. They are being held in readiness for the day when ISIS and Nusra are cleared from the field. The rebellion against Assad must be crushed in order for the rebellion against Assad to proceed. The Syrian civil war will not end; it will be placed on hold. It will resume when "our" rebels supplant the jihadist maniacs.

I think that this scenario is Obama's plan. I may be wrong, of course -- and I would appreciate hearing from anyone who offers a counter-argument.

But for the moment, let's say I'm right. Will the trick work?

Probably not. Until now, we've been funding the Islamic maniacs for the simple reason that they are really, really good at one thing: Killing people. They are motivated. Boy howdy, are they ever motivated! They have their version of the beatific vision. They are willing to die and willing to destroy. As this reporter puts it:
Any Syrian soldier will tell you that they are happy to fight the FSA because these warriors of the “moderate opposition” always run away. It is the al-Qaeda-Nusra-Isis “terrorists” who fight to the death.
I suspect that the "Army of the Vetted" will also imitate Brave Sir Robin of Monty Python fame. Sure, they'll have money and arms -- but will they have that proverbial fire in the belly?
Comments:
ISIS has a head of steam up now but evidently lack control of air space. What would it require to retard the USA/Allies dominance? Who would you buy this technology from? Russia I'd hazard wouldn't dare dream of supplying (even as much of the proxy war happening in Ukraine) thus reducing their own trump card. Are there any states able to supply? What happens if ISIS forms the tech themselves? As I would expect they are trying.
 
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