Candobetter.net Editor: This article is about the US contribution to the radicalisation of the Middle East. In reality there is no dividing wall between the 'extremists' and 'America's supposedly moderate opposition allies'. Recently both Turkey and Saudi Arabia, which operate out of US-led command centers in Turkey and Jordan, signed a pact to coordinate support to al-Qaeda and other extremist groups in order to further attack the Syrian government.
Recent Rebel Gains a Result of US Support to Extremists
The rebel opposition in Syria has in recent months made a series of gains against the Syrian army, most notably in Idlib, Palmyra, and Ramadi in Iraq. However, given that from the very beginning the opposition had taken “a clear sectarian direction” and has been dominated by “ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra… in addition to other extreme jihadi groups”, itself consisting of “no moderate middle”, and the fact that “in reality there is no dividing wall between them [extremists] and America’s supposedly moderate opposition allies”, it is no wonder why all of the recent gains have been made by hard-line Islamists.(1) The radicalization of the opposition was the result of a covert US/CIA-led program in collusion with regional allies to expand the dissent base in Syria and strengthen Islamist rebels against the Syrian government.(2)
These recent Islamist advances are the result of an increase in support from the US-led coalition to their proxies inside Syria. Recently both Turkey and Saudi Arabia, who operate out of US-led command centers in Turkey and Jordan, signed a pact in early March to coordinate support to al-Qaeda and other extremist groups in order to further attack the Syrian government. Huffington Post quotes Usama Abu Zeid, a legal advisor to the Free Syrian Army, as confirming that this new coordination had facilitated recent rebel advances.(3) The pact subsequently lead to the al-Qaeda takeover of Idlib in late March, where the two countries have since set up a joint command center to further coordinate and command their extremist proxies from the captured province. Syrian government sources thus accurately blame Turkish intervention as the key factor in the fall of Idlib. The city’s fall however is only the 2nd provincial capital that has been captured by the opposition during the entire 4-year war, the other being Raqqa, which is now the de facto capital of the fake Islamic State “Caliphate.”(4)
In addition to Turkish and Saudi support to al-Qaeda extremists, so too has the US increased its support to Islamists.
In early May Charles Lister of the Brookings Institute Doha Center confirmed that “US-led operations rooms in southern Turkey and Jordan” have specifically “encouraged a closer cooperation with Islamists commanding frontline operations”, and while doing so have “dramatically increased [their] level of assistance and provisions of intelligence” to this Islamist-led opposition, all of which has led to the al-Qaeda victory in Idlib.(5) So not only has the entire support to the opposition from the beginning been coordinated and commanded by the US, so too has the US spearheaded recent support to al-Qaeda along with its Turkish, Saudi, and Qatari allies.
These Western-backed advances were facilitated by the delivery of “gamechanging” new advanced weaponry to the extremists, including TOW anti-tank missiles. The Guardian reports that the results of this “were shocking. The regional capital of Idlib fell within days. Several weeks later, the nearby town of Jisr al-Shughour also fell to an amalgam of jihadist.”(6) All of this being “the outcome of the first heavy weapons to reach the hands of the Syrian opposition in years of civil war from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE and Turkey,” which was “blessed by Washington after long hesitation.”(7)
The US recently encourages support to Islamists while it’s Saudi and Turkish allies openly support al-Qaeda linked militants, all of whom have been provided with new shipments of advanced weaponry and support which has been instrumental in their recent advances.
Qatar has made recent efforts to convince al-Nusra’s leader to detach itself from al-Qaeda and portray Nusra as though it is not planning to attack the West in an attempt to justify this increased aid. However it is important to note that “if Nusra is dissolved and it abandons al Qaeda, the ideology of the new entity is not expected to change,” while it’s leaders would remain “close to al Qaeda chief Ayman Zawahri [sic].” In a recent interview with the Qatari channel Al Jazeera, al-Nusra’s leader al-Golani was given a platform to say that Nusra does not plan to attack the West, yet he still reaffirmed full allegiance to al-Qaeda’s leader al-Zawahiri against the wishes of Qatar.(8) Despite the failure of re-branding al-Qaeda’s Syria faction the group still received a substantial increase in aid and support from its backers in the Gulf, Turkey, and the United States.
Given this, both the US and Turkey have in addition recently agreed “in principle” to establish a no-fly zone to further aid the forces on the ground they are supporting.(9) This is illegal, against international law, and would be de-facto support to terrorist organizations in the form of US aerial attacks against the Syrian state. It would be devastating to the region as well, only benefiting supporters of reactionary Islamic rule and Western imperial hegemony.
However, the al-Qaeda linked factions unfortunately are not the only groups that owe their recent battlefield successes to their Western patrons, so too does the Islamic State.
When the Islamic State recently took Ramadi in Iraq, they travelled a full 553km across open desert to the city from their de facto capital in Raqqa, Syria.
Despite the fact that destroying the militants along this route would have been like shooting fish in a barrel, the US “anti-ISIS” coalition did not expend a single airstrike against them, even though the US “had significant intelligence about the pending Islamic State offensive in Ramadi. For the US military, it was an open secret at the time.” The US intelligence community “had good warning that the Islamic State intended a new and bolder offensive in Ramadi because it was able to identify the convoys of heavy artillery, vehicle bombs and reinforcements,” which were coming from Raqqa, “through overhead imagery and eavesdropping on chatter from local Islamic State commanders.” Furthermore, “It surprised no one,” US intelligence officials said. (10)
Speaking on these developments, former British MI6 agent Alastair Crooke comments that “the speculation about a coming fractured Iraq has gained big momentum from ISIS's virtually unopposed walk-in to Ramadi. The images of long columns of ISIS Toyota Land Cruisers, black pennants waving in the wind, making their way from Syria all the way -- along empty desert main roads -- to Ramadi with not an American aircraft in evidence, certainly needs some explaining. There cannot be an easier target imagined than an identified column of vehicles, driving an arterial road, in the middle of a desert.”(11)
As ISIS arrived in Ramadi, the US-coalition launched a paltry 7 airstrikes against them, a number so low as to be entirely insignificant. To alleviate concerns that the US openly allowed ISIS to take Ramadi, the US military blamed a great and powerful “sandstorm” for their lack of airstrikes. However, just days later they retracted these false statements. ABC reports that “Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters today that last weekend's sandstorm had not affected the coalition’s ability to launch airstrikes in Ramadi, though “weather was a factor on the ground early on.””(12) Further dispelling these excuses, the day after Ramadi’s fall rows of Islamic State militants were pictured celebrated openly in the streets below crystal clear skies.
(Source of picture: MailOnline, May 19, 2015)
If the US-coalition had been serious about stopping ISIS they could have easily destroyed whole factions of the group at this time. Instead, desperate for another excuse to explain their inaction, they changed their reasons and blamed concern for civilian deaths for the lack of strikes. However this excuse is so patently absurd as to be laughable, and therefore can be completely disregarded; one need only look at the grave human death tolls inflicted during the invasion of Iraq, the US support for Israel’s genocidal assault on Gaza last summer, the US-facilitated devastation of eastern Ukraine, the global drone campaign, the US’ own “anti-ISIS” airstrikes, and the current crazed US-backed Saudi bombing campaign in Yemen to see that Western officials lose exactly zero sleep over the civilian blood that is on their hands.(13)
deliver aid to ISIS.(15)
predecessor’s rejection of political Islamists”, and shifted policy towards “increasing support for rebels in Syria.”(16) What the Times did say is that it is primarily Saudi Arabia and other major US Arab allies who “fund ISIS,” in Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey’s own words, so it is no wonder which ‘Islamists’ Saudi
Arabia has increased support for.(17)
imprisoning its own daughters, but surely it’s perfectly plausible that this anachronistic monarchy which controls its population through the bludgeon and fear is simply baffled with inability at locating the guilty perpetrators.
In recent ISIS offensives in Syria the US as well took no aerial action despite the fact that doing so would have been easy and effective. A spokesman for the rebel group the Shamiah front recently criticized the US-coalition for not bombing IS convoys as they moved outward from Raqqa, saying that “There were convoys of 15 to 20 vehicles each. Only two coalition raids in the past three days would have been enough to stop the attack.” Similarly, Salim Idriss, once the US’ leading rebel commander, said that the US-led coalition repeatedly had allowed Islamic
State convoys to pass unhindered, pointing most recently to May 31st when he said a 60-vehicle convoy moved from Raqqa to Aleppo unperturbed.(19)
and will provide a renewed momentum under the presumption of unifying the jihad among Sunni Iraq and Syria, and the rest of the Sunnis in the Arab world against what it considers one enemy, the dissenters.”
US Department of Defense intelligence knew that the opposition was “sectarian”, dominated by extremist groups, and that continued support to such an opposition would lead to the fall of Mosul and Ramadi, and the fact that with this
knowledge the US actually increased their aid to the rebels rather than curtailing it, means that the US must have intended, either directly or indirectly, these predictable outcomes of their actions.(21)
plausible deniability and to obscure the actual role the US has played in the facilitation of ISIS, evidenced further by ISIS’ continual growth.
While this US-led coalition expresses optimistically spurious notions of a “winning strategy”, the truth is that ISIS hasn’t been deterred since this strategy has come into effect. It should be said as well that “the ‘moderate’ rebels the US and UK support themselves openly welcomed the arrival of such extremists. Indeed, the Free Syria Army backed by the West was allied with ISIS, until ISIS attacked them at the end of 2013,” former British Army and Metropolitan Police counter terrorism intelligence officer Charles Shoebridge notes.(22)
Syria-Hezbollah-Iran-Russia in the form of a torrent of Western media publications, interviews, articles, and research papers all professing that Assad is losing the war. The tone of these Western protestations is nothing short of euphoric, yet those on
the ground suffering from the brutality of al-Nusra and ISIS’ gains are not as jubilant, nor are they under the illusion that successes by foreign-backed extremist Wahhabis constitutes the makings of a “revolution.” Yet despite the Wests wishful thinking and adherence to the narrative of “moderate rebels” fighting against extremists, which itself is an impressive display of willful ignorance that disciplined intellectuals must work hard to cultivate, their insistence on attacking Syrian society with terrorist proxies has not been as successful as they had hoped, and has sparked a substantial backlash from Iran.
make major changes to the landscape of control in Syria.” Control over Qalamoun threatens to cut off important rebel supply lines that runs from the Damascus suburbs to the mountain region, and to hinder the smuggling of arms and resources from Lebanon into Syria and vice versa, given the areas proximity to the Lebanese border.
first line of defence against a threat facing the entire country.” According to one resident from the Bekaa
village bordering the eastern mountain range, “If Hezbollah wasn't in Qalamoun right now, we would cease to exist,” adding further that “Maybe the people of Beirut aren't aware of this, but we certainly are.”(23)
Institute for the Study of War “These incidents will likely drive Iran to increase its direct economic and indirect military support to the Assad regime in order to bolster its ability to sustain the fight. In a speech delivered on May 23, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah stated that Hezbollah will fight “wherever necessary” throughout Syria; other Hezbollah senior officials released their own statements confirming that Hezbollah will continue to back the Syrian regime for “however long it takes” despite recent setbacks. These messages of defiance suggest that Hezbollah will likely increase its support to the regime.”
retake Jisr al-Shughur because it is key to the Mediterranean coast and the Hama region,” the source said. The Daily Star quotes a Lebanese political source as stating that “Iran has sent 15,000 fighters to Syria to reverse recent battlefield setbacks for Syrian government troops and wants to achieve results by the end of the month.” According to retired senior officer of U.S. Military Intelligence and U.S. Army Special Forces Colonel W. Patrick Lang’s
estimate “this is just the beginning of a large scale Iranian intervention in the Syrian civil war. The entry into the
Syria war of a large number of Iranian Quds force led troops would be a game changer. Whether the fighters are Iranian, Iraqi or from the dark side of the moon their presence might well make a decisive change in the balance of combat power in Syria.”(25)
Islamic State in Hasaka city.
Patrick Cockburn, “Preface” & “The Rise of ISIS”, The Rise of Islamic
State: ISIS and the New Sunni Revolution (Brooklyn, NY, 2015). Pg. xx, 3.
engaged in a clandestine operation to arm Syrian rebels, specifically choosing
which rebels receive the lethal aid. Eric Schmitt, New York Times, “C.I.A. Said to Aid in Steering Arms to Syrian
Opposition.” June 21, 2015. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/21/world/middleeast/cia-said-to-aid-in-steering-arms-to-syrian-rebels.html?_r=0;
The Times subsequently reports that the US-coordinated shipments are “largely
going to hard-line Islamists”, Davide E. Sanger, New York Times, “Rebel Arms Flow Is Said to Benefit Jihadists in
Syria.” October 14, 2012. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/15/world/middleeast/jihadists-receiving-most-arms-sent-to-syrian-rebels.html?pagewanted=all&_r=2&;
A 2012 DIA report notes that “The Salafist, the Muslim Brotherhood, and AQI
(al-Qaeda in Iraq) are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria” and
that “the West, Gulf countries, and Turkey support the opposition.” Given this
information, the US increased aid in the following years. Judicial Watch. http://www.judicialwatch.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Pg.-291-Pgs.-287-293-JW-v-DOD-and-State-14-812-DOD-Release-2015-04-10-final-version11.pdf;
A leading Syrian opposition leader, Dr. Haytham Manna, writing in The Guardian
states “the pumping of arms to Syria, supported by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the
phenomenon of the Free Syrian Army, and the entry of more than 200 jihadi
foreigners into Syria in the past six months have all led to a decline in the
mobilisation of large segments of the population… and in the activists'
peaceful civil movement. The political discourse has become sectarian; there
has been a Salafisation of religiously conservative sectors”, Haytham Manna, The Guardian, “Syria’s opposition has
been led astray by violence.” June 22, 2012. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/jun/22/syria-opposition-led-astray-by-violence.
to Help Rebels Fighting Syria’s Assad.” May 7, 2015. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/05/07/turkey-saudi-arabia-syria-rebels-pact_n_7232750.html.
“Turkey helped Islamists take over Idlib, Syrian source accuses.” March 30,
finally facing the end?” May 23, 2015. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/may/24/syria-iran-isis-battle-arab-world?CMP=share_btn_tw.
DEBKA Weekly Vol. 14, Issue 663, May 15, 2015.
cutting their links with al Qaeda… sources said. Sources within and close to Nusra said that
Qatar, which enjoys good relations with the group, is encouraging the group to
go ahead with the move, which would give Nusra a boost in funding… Intelligence officials from Gulf states
including Qatar have met the leader of Nusra, Abu Mohamad al-Golani, several
times in the past few months to encourage him to abandon al Qaeda and to
discuss what support they could provide, the sources said. They promised funding once it happens… The Nusra Front is listed as a terrorist
group by the United States and has been sanctioned by the United Nations
Security Council. But for Qatar at least, rebranding Nusra would remove legal
obstacles to supporting it.” Mariam Karouny, Reuters, “Syria’s Nusra Front may leave Qaeda to form new entity.”
March 4, 2015. http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/04/us-mideast-crisis-nusra-insight-idUSKBN0M00GE20150304.
principle’ to provide air support for Syrian rebels.” May 25, 2015. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/may/25/turkey-us-air-support-syria-rebels-agree-in-principle.
“U.S. Saw Islamic State Coming, Let It Take Ramadi.” May 28, 2015. http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2015-05-28/u-s-saw-islamic-state-coming-let-it-take-ramadi.
Crooke, Huffington Post, “If Syria
and Iraq Become Fractured, So Too Will Tripoli and North Lebanon.” June 1,
airstrikes on a sandstorm. Erich Shmitt, Helene Cooper, The New York Times, “ISIS Fighters Seized Advantage in Iraq Attack
by Striking During Sandstorm.” May 18, 2015. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/19/world/middleeast/isis-fighters-seized-advantage-in-iraq-attack-by-striking-during-sandstorm.html?_r=0;
US retracts statement about sandstorm after evidence emerges disproving these
claims. Luis Martinez, ABC News,
“Misunderstanding May Have Led Iraqi Troops to Leave Ramadi.” May 21, 2015. http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/misunderstanding-led-iraqi-troops-leave-ramadi/story?id=31219607.
drone campaign, the Guardian notes that out of 41 men targeted in Yemen and
Pakistan, a total of 1,147 were killed, at least 149 of them being children,
the reported data being only a fraction of those killed overall, the total
civilian death toll likely being much worse. Spencer Ackerman, The Guardian, “41 men targeted but 1,147
people killed: US drone strikes – the facts on the ground.” November 24, 2014. http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2014/nov/24/-sp-us-drone-strikes-kill-1147;
A US-led airstrikes in northern Syria targets a town without any ISIS present,
kills a total of 52 civilians in the process. Maya Gebeily, Agence France Presse, “US-led airstrikes
‘kill 52 civilians in northern Syria.’ May 2, 2015. http://news.yahoo.com/52-civilians-dead-coalition-strikes-syria-monitor-074747525.html;
A series of Saudi airstrikes in May, conducted with the support of the US,
struck a hospital and medical camp in southwestern Yemen killing at least 58
civilians and injuring another 67. The hospital was not being used by rebels
and none of the dead was a rebel fighter.
Despite this and much more, US support for the assault continued. Hakim
Almasmari, Melissa Gray, CNN, “Yemeni
civilians killed in Saudi Airstrikes, officials say.” May 1, 2015. http://edition.cnn.com/2015/05/01/middleeast/yemen-crisis/index.html;
US and Saudi naval blockade of Yemen blocks desperately needed aid, relegating
80% of the population under a humanitarian disaster. Julian Borger, The
Guardian, “Saudi-led naval blockade leaves 20m Yemenis facing humanitarian
disaster.” June 5, 2015. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jun/05/saudi-led-naval-blockade-worsens-yemen-humanitarian-disaster.
parliamentary speaker, The Middle East Media
Research Institute, “Wahda Al-Jumaili, Advisor to Iraqi Parliament Speaker:
Int'l Coalition Dropped Weapons, Which Enabled ISIS Takeover of Ramadi.” May
19, 2015. http://www.memri.org/clip_transcript/en/4917.htm.
in Tikrit Offensive Amidst Accusations US is Arming ISIL.” March 12, 2015. http://undergroundreports.blogspot.com/2015/03/iraq-sidelines-us-in-tikrit-offensive.html.
New York Times, “King Salman Upends Status Quo in Region and the Royal
Family.” May 10, 2015. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/11/world/middleeast/king-salman-upends-status-quo-in-region-and-the-royal-family.html?_r=0.
Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey speaking before the Senate Armed Services
Committee, C-SPAN. September 16,
Josh Rogin, The Daily Beast, “America’s Allies Are Funding ISIS.” June 14, 2014. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/06/14/america-s-allies-are-funding-isis.html.
airstrikes as Islamic State advances near Aleppo.” June 1, 2015. http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2015/06/01/268446/rebels-call-for-us-airstrikes.html.
Nafeez Ahmed, Medium “Ex-intel officials: Pentagon report proves US complicity
in ISIS.” June 2, 2015. https://medium.com/insurge-intelligence/ex-intel-officials-pentagon-report-proves-us-complicity-in-isis-fabef96e20da.
It is a tenant of law that the doer of an act must be taken to have intended
its natural and foreseeable consequences. Given that the fall of Mosul and
Ramadi were natural and foreseeable consequences and that the US-led coalition
still continued the policies that were known to lead to these outcomes, the US
and her allies must therefore be taken to have intended these outcomes, either
directly or indirectly. Steven Chovanec, MintPress
News, “New FOIA Doc Reveals How US Supported The Rise Of ISIS.” May 26,
International Court of Justice, Advisory Opinion on the Legality of the
Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons (1996), “Dissenting Opinion of Judge
Weeramantry,” Chapter III, “Humanitarian Law,” section 10, “Specific rules of
the humanitarian laws,” (a) “The prohibition against causing unnecessary
strategy” against ISIS, without inviting Russia, Iran, and Syria. BBC, “Iraq coalition winning against IS,
says US.” June 2, 2015. http://m.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-32962870;
Patrick Cockburn, The Independent,
“Isis in Kobani: Turkey’s act of abandonment may mark an ‘irrevocable breach’
with Kurds across the region.” October 7, 2014. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/isis-in-kobani-turkeys-act-of-abandonment-may-mark-an-irrevocable-breach-with-kurds-across-the-region-9780941.html;
Nafeez Ahmed, Ceasefire, “Story of a
War Foretold: Why we’re fighting ISIS.” September 25, 2014. https://ceasefiremagazine.co.uk/fighting-isis/.
Strategic Gains Against Al Qaeda-Led Rebels In Battle Of Qalamoun.” May 11,
The Daily Star, “Hezbollah, Syrian
army seize control of new Qalamoun hill.” May 15, 2015. http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Lebanon-News/2015/May-15/298074-hezbollah-syrian-rebels-clash-for-control-of-west-qalamoun.ashx;
Nour Samaha, Al Jazeera, “Nasrallah
declares victory in Syria’s Qalamoun.” May 16, 2015. http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/05/nasrallah-declares-victory-syria-qalamoun-150516192033488.html;
Leith Fadel, Al-Masdar News, “The
Syrian Army and Hezbollah Triumph Over Al-Qaeda in the Qalamoun Mountains.” May
29, 2015. http://www.almasdarnews.com/article/the-syrian-army-and-hezbollah-triumph-over-al-qaeda-in-the-qalamoun-mountains/;
Nour Samaha, Foreign Policy, “Hezbollah
Is ‘Stronger Than Ever’.” June 1, 2015. http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/06/01/hezbollah-is-stronger-than-ever-isis-syria/;
Nour Samaha, Al Jazeera, “Why
Qalamoun matters for Hezbollah.” May 11, 2015. http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/05/150511085809867.html.
“Iranian military mastermind Soleimani vows to ‘surprise’ world in Syria.” June
3, 2015. http://europe.newsweek.com/iranian-military-mastermind-soleimani-vows-surprise-world-syria-328161;
DEBKAfile, “Iranian Rev Guards ready
to intervene in Syria to save Assad. Soleimani: Expect major events in Syria.”
June 3, 2015. http://www.debka.com/article/24639/.
France Presse, “Iraq, Iran fighters deployed to defend Damascus: security
source.” June 3, 2015. http://news.yahoo.com/iraq-iran-fighters-deployed-defend-damascus-security-source-143253360.html;
The Daily Star, “Iran sends 15,000
fighters to Syria.” June 4, 2015. http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2015/Jun-04/300520-iran-sends-15000-fighters-to-syria.ashx;
Patrick Lang, Sic Semper Tyrannis,
“Is Soleimani’s “Surprise” underway?” June 4, 2015. http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2015/06/httpwwwdailystarcomlbnewsmiddle-east2015jun-04300520-iran-sends-15000-fighters-to-syriaashx.html.