Tuesday, November 11, 2014
The endgame of the US ‘Islamic State’ strategy
By Nicola Nasser*
Dismantling what the former US President George W. Bush once described as the Syria – Iran component of the “axis of evil,” or interrupting in Iraq the geographical contiguity of what King Abdullah II of Jordan once described as the “Shiite crescent,” was and remains the strategic goal of the US – Israeli allies in the Middle East unless they succeed first in “changing the regime” in either Damascus or Tehran.
Israel and their regional
allies have been on the record that the final target of their “regime change”
campaign in the Middle East was to dismantle the Syria
With the obvious failure of Plan A to dismantle the self- proclaimed anti-Israel and anti - US Syrian – Iranian “Resistance Axis” by a forcible “regime change” in Damascus, a US – led regional alliance has turned recently to its Plan B to interrupt in Iraq the geographical contiguity of that axis.
This is the endgame of President Barak Obama’s strategy, which he declared on last September 10 as ostensibly against the Islamic State (IS).
This would at least halt for the foreseeable future all the signed and projected trilateral or bilateral Iranian, Iraqi and Syrian pipeline networks to carry oil and gas from
Iran and Iraq
to the Syrian coast at the Mediterranean.
“The growing involvement of Sunni Salafi s in
Iraq (since 2003), among the rebels in Syria (since 2011), and in Lebanon has created a ‘ Salafi Crescent’ … from Diyala [in
eastern Iraq] to ,” he wrote. Beirut
“A positive outcome” of this
Salafi Crescent “will be the decline in
Iranian influence in the region,”
Conspiracy theories aside, the eventual outcome is a sectarian Sunni military and political wedge driven into the Iraqi geographical connection of the Iran-Syria alliance in a triangle bordering Turkey in the north, Iran in the east, Jordan in the west and Saudi Arabia in the south and extending from north eastern Syria to the Iraqi province of Diyala which borders Iran.
Iraqi Kurdistan is already effectively an independent state and cut off from the central government in Baghdad, but separating Iran and Syria as well and supported by the same US – led anti – IS coalition.
Amid the misinformation and disinformation, the fact is that the IS threat is being used as a smokescreen to confuse and blur this reality.
The IS was conceived and delivered in an American womb. The
– drafted and enforced current constitution produced the sectarian government
that is still trying to rule in .
Sectarian cleansing and exclusion of Sunnis could not but inevitably create its
The IS was the illegitimate fetus born and nurtured inside the uterus of the US - engineered political process based on a constitution legalizing a federal system based in turn on sectarian and ethnic sharing of power and wealth.
This horrible illegitimate creature is the “legacy” of the US war on Iraq, which was “conceived” in the “sin” of the US invasion of the country in 2003, in the words of the president of the Arab American Institute, James J. Zogbi, writing in the Jordan Times on last June 16.
US Senator John McCain, quoted by The Atlantic on last June 23, thanked “God,” the “Saudis and Prince Bandar” and “our Qatari friends” for creating the “monster.”
The pro-Iran government of former Prime Minister Noori al-Maliki was squeezed by the IS military advances to “request” the US help, which Washington preconditioned on the removal of al-Maliki to which Iran succumbed. The IS gave Obama’s IS strategy its first success.
However, al-Maliki’s replacement by Haider al-Abadi in August has changed nothing so far in the sectarian component of the Iraqi government and army. The US support of Iraq under his premiership boils down only to supporting continued sectarianism in the country, which is the incubator of the survival of its IS antithesis.
Moreover, the destruction of the Iraqi state infrastructure, especially the dismantling of
national army and security agencies and the Iraqi Baath party that held them
intact, following the US
invasion, has created a power vacuum which neither the occupation
forces nor the sectarian Shiite militias could fill. The IS was not powerful
per se. They just stepped in on a no-man land. US
Similarly, some four years of a US – led “regime change” effort, which was initially spearheaded by the Muslim Brotherhood and which is still financed, armed and logistically facilitated by the US regional allies in Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia as well as by allied western intelligence services, has created another power vacuum in Syria, especially on border areas and in particular in the northern and eastern areas bordering Turkey and Iraq.
“We have been fighting alongside al Qaeda, fighting alongside
ISIS is now emboldened and in two
countries. But here's the anomaly. We're with ISIS in .
We're on the same side of the war. So, those who want to get involved to
stop ISIS in Syria Iraq are allied
with ISIS in .
That is the real contradiction to this whole policy,” he said. Syria
The former 16 - year member of the US Congress and two - time US presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich, writing in the http://www.huffingtonpost.com on last September 24, summed it up: The IS “was born of Western intervention in Iraq and covert action in Syria.”
‘Trojan horse’ US
The IS could have considered playing the role of a US “Frankenstein,” but in fact it is serving as the US “Trojan horse” into Syria and Iraq. Fighting the IS was the
tactic, not the
On record, Iranian deputy foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said that “the best way of fighting ISIS and terrorism in the region is to help and strengthen the Iraqi and Syrian governments, which have been engaged in a serious struggle” against the IS. But this would not serve the endgame of Obama’s strategy, which targets both governments instead.
Beneficiaries of the IS “Trojan horse” leave no doubts about the credibility of the Syrian, Iranian and Russian doubts about the real endgame of the US – led declared war on the IS.
The United States was able finally to bring about its long awaited and promoted “front of moderates” against Iran and Syria into an active and “air-striking” alliance, ostensibly against the IS.
In Iraq, the IS served the US strategy in wrestling back the so called “political process” from the Iranian influence by proxy of the former premier al – Maliki. Depriving al – Maliki of a third term had proved that there is no unified
– backed “Shia house” in .
has its own influence inside that “house.” US
Installing a US Iraqi satellite was the strategic goal of the
US – led invasion and
in 2003. Instead, according to Doug Bandow,
writing in Forbes on last October 14, “Bush’s legacy was a corrupt, authoritarian, and sectarian state,
friendly with Iran and Syria, Washington’s prime adversaries in the Middle
East. Even worse was the emergence of the Islamic State.” Iraq
This counterproductive outcome of the US invasion, which saw Iran wielding the reigns of power in Baghdad and edging Iraq closer to Syria and Iran during the eight years of al-Maliki’s premiership, turned the red lights on in the White House and the capitals of its regional allies.
Al-Maliki, whom Bush had designated as “our guy” in
administration facilitated his premiership in 2006, turned against his mentors. Baghdad
closer to the Syrian and Iranian poles of the “axis of evil.” Consequently he
opposed western or Israeli military attack on Iraq , at least from or via the
Iraqi territory. In Iran Syria,
he opposed a regime change in Damascus, rejected
direct military “foreign intervention” and indirect proxy intervention and
insisted that a “political solution” is the only way forward in ’s western
Arab neighbor. Iraq
Worse still was his opening Iraq up to rival Chinese and Russian hydrocarbon investments, turning Iraq a part of an Iran-Iraq-Syria oil and gas pipeline network and buying weapons from the Russian Federation.
Al- Maliki had to go. He was backed by
to assume his second term as prime minister in spite of the , which
backed the winner of the 2010 elections for the post, Ayad Allawi. The US had its
revenge in the 2014 elections. Al-Maliki won the elections, but was denied a
third term thanks to US pressure. US
The IS was the
instrument to exert that pressure. US Secretary of State John Kerry during his visit to US Baghdad on last June 23 warned that was facing
“an existential threat.” Iraq
It was a
brinkmanship diplomacy to force al-Maliki to choose between two bad options:
Either to accept a de facto secession of western and northern Iraq on the lines of Iraqi Kurdistan or accept
conditional military support. Al-Maliki rejected both options, but he had paid
the price already. US
The turning point came with the fall of
second largest city of
to the IS on last June 10. Iraqi Kurdistan inclusive, the northern and
western Mosul Iraq, including most
of the crossing points into Syria
and Jordan in the west, were
clinched out of the control of Baghdad, i.e.
some two thirds of the area of .
Al-Maliki was left to fight this sectarian Sunni
insurgency by his sectarian Iran-backed Shiite government. This
was a non-starter and was only to exacerbate the already deteriorating
Al- Maliki and
Iran were made to
understand that no US
support was forthcoming to reign in the IS until he quits and a less pro-Iran
and a more “inclusive” government is formed in . Iraq
The creation of the IS as the sectarian Sunni alternative against
Iran’s ruling allies
in Baghdad and Damascus
was and is still the
tactic towards its strategic endgame. Until the time the US strategy succeeds
in wrestling Baghdad from Iran influence back into its fold as a separating
wedge between Iran and Syria, the IS will continue to serve US strategy and so
far Obama’s strategy is working. US
“America is using ISIS in three ways: to attack its enemies in the Middle East, to serve as a pretext for U.S. military intervention abroad, and at home to foment a manufactured domestic threat, used to justify the unprecedented expansion of invasive domestic surveillance,” Garikai Chengu, a research scholar at Harvard University, wrote in http://www.counterpunch.org/ on last September 19.
As a doctrine, since the collapse of the Ottoman caliphate early in the twentieth century, western powers did their best to keep Arabs separated from their strategic depth in their immediate Islamic proximity. The
Syria – alliance continues to
challenge this doctrine. Iran
* Nicola Nasser is a veteran Arab journalist based in Birzeit, West Bank of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories (firstname.lastname@example.org).