Sunday, 9 August 2015

Deeper and Deeper :The Failure of the Western Powers War on ISIS.

The US war against ISIS clearly does have an obvious consistent goal which is to protect global oil supplies from ISIS. As ISIS thrives in regions where Saudi Arabia and Iran have locked horns in a deadly proxy war against each other, there can be no end in sight when Washington hardly controls either side.

True, 'billions of dollars have been spent, thousands of bombs have been dropped, hundreds of civilians have been killed and Isis is no weaker than it was last August ( 2014) , when the airstrikes began'. The reason, though, is the underlying cause of the spread of ISIS, the  proxy war between Iran and the Saudis is spreading.

It is not only in northern Iraq and Syria, where ISIS retains power and influence among the Sunni Muslim losers in the struggle to overthrow Assad and against the Shia dominated government in Baghdad. It has spread into Yemen where drone attacks were at a height in 2012 and have declined as ISIS surged into Iraq.

Republicans argue that it is Obama's attempt to cut US military commitments in the Middle East since 2011 and the 'Pivot to Asia' that have resulted in Yemen being menaced by ISIS. They also seem to be under the dangerous delusion that had Obama armed the "moderate" rebels in Syria, ISIS would have been contained.

This unfounded claim was also made by a Hilary Clinton, a Democrat candidate for the White House in 2016. ISIS has spread wherever destabilising proxy conflicts have broken out between Iran and Saudi Arabia and, in the case of Libya, between Qatar and Turkey on the one side and Saudi Arabia, Egypt on the other.

As in Syria in 2011, the entire basis of the the West's policy was based, in continuity with the invasion of Iraq in 2003, on the inability to accept that in deposing a secular dictator the alternative would be a chaos far worse that would end up creating a situation from which there would be more demands to get further involved.

The bungling British PM who helped spearhead the NATO intervention against Gaddafi in 2011 has already indicated in the wake of the Sousse Terror Attack in July 2015, where over 30 British tourists where gunned on a beach, that he would "take action" if he discovered a "plot". The gunman Seifeddine Rezgui was trained in Libya.

Declaring that Britain would fight terrorists anywhere in the world is fighting talk. But it means he will be under pressure to act on those words, not least as ISIS terror attacks such as those in Tunisia are designed precisely to ratchet up the cosmic battle ISIS craves. So the rhetoric is actually self-defeating and pointless.

The problem is politicians in Western democracies have is they are put in a bind whereby they have to openly and publicly prove in public rhetoric how they could best protect their electorate from terror attacks. ISIS has realised they have to resort to kneejerk rhetoric of the 'war on terror' sort that steadily entraps them.

Now in 2015 the array of grandstanding demagogues who make up the Republican candidates for the presidential race for the White House in 2016, are all seemingly blinded by Saudi oil wealth and the supposed value of an old Cold War alliance against what is still regarded as an evil theocratic regime in Tehran.

This stance, one taken by a number of neoconservative fanatics and 'liberal interventionists' is deeply hypocritical to the point of being a perfect example of what George Orwell termed 'doublethink'. The Wahhabi state based in Riyadh is very much a theocratic state that has bankrolled Sunni jihadists for decades.

The Western Powers approach to the Arab Spring of 2001 was to try to win some favour back in the 'Muslim World' by being seen to align with democratic Sunni Islamist forces from below against dictators without revising their close partnerships with the Gulf States. This flawed strategy was bound to backfire on it.

Gulf states such as Qatar only promoted democracy against autocracy where it suited their geopolitical interests as a means to an end: elsewhere as in Libya or Syria it would back Sunni jihadists with little time for democracy as a way of rivaling Iran and Saudi Arabia which was hostile to 'democracy promotion'

In Yemen it is the Shi'ite Houthis, and in Syria Assad and Hezbollah, which remain bulwarks against ISIS spreading further. No amount of air strikes and drone warfare is going to defeat ISIS while the forces on the ground that could hold back ISIS are regarded as evil enemies that the Saudis are committed to fighting via proxies.

In fact, where ISIS has not been regarded as an enemy and a threat directly to Saudi Arabia, Sunni militant groups close in ideology and outlook to ISIS at least have been regarded as assets on the geostrategical chessboard ranged against Iran. It is reported that Saudi Arabia still  funds such groups such as Al Nusra in Syria.

The continued attempts to arm and train Division 30, a group of "moderate" rebels, are farcical, not least as they were kidnapped by Al Nusra fighters and then claimed they would not fight them. Al Nusra is not that different from ISIS; militants defect and join ISIS or others like Al Qaida in the fluid circumstances of war.

ISIS knows this which is why it is interposes itself in precisely those lands where the Sunni-Shia sectarian divide has been stoked up by Iran and the Saudis. The idea this has been created wholly by the Western Powers is also farcical as despite the pretension that they can influence states in the region it is the other way around.

Saudi Arabia desperately wants Washington to align more forthrightly with Riyadh against Iran and simply has ignored US attempts to pressurise it into not funding Sunni militants known as 'moderates' when fighting Iranian backed forces and 'extremists' when they turn on the Saudis and the West.

Even the Taliban is using this rhetorical sleight of hand in rebranding as 'moderate' force ranged against damaging sectarian divisions. It wants to prove useful in its war against the US backed government in Kabul by flirting with Iran if Saudi Arabia proves unwilling to back it and should Kabul back the Saudis more over Yemen.

The US has escalated its drone attacks on both the Taliban and ISIS, who detest each other But it is not inconceivable that the Saudis might regard ISIS as an asset in Afghanistan even if the suicide attack on the Saudi mosque shows it is starting to infiltrate from Yemen where the Saudi air force is attacking Shi'ite Houthis.

From Afghanistan to Syria and Yemen is that drone warfare and air power achieves very little while Western strategy remains contradicted by its regional allies, whether Turkey or Saudi Arabia, who are less interested in defeating ISIS than in defeating its rivals and their enemies-the radical Kurds and Iranian backed militias.

No comments:

Post a Comment