David Stockman / Stockman’s Corner & Shamus Cooke / AntiWar.com – 2014-08-28 00:48:59
Bombs Away Over Syria!
Washington Has Gone Stark Raving Mad
David Stockman / Stockman’s Corner
(August 27, 2014) — America’s spanker-in-chief is at it again — threatening to bomb Syria owing to the uncivilized actions of its inhabitants. And when it comes to Syria, Washington avers that there are punishable malefactors virtually everywhere within its borders.
Exactly one year ago Obama proposed to take Bashar Al Assad to the woodshed because he had allegedly unleashed a vicious chemical attack on his own citizens. That was all pretext, of course, because even the CIA refused to sign-off on the flimsy case for Assad’s culpability at the time — a reluctance corroborated since then by the considerable evidence that hundreds of Syrian civilians were murdered during a false flag operation staged by the rebels with help from Turkey. The aim of the rebels, of course, was to activate American tomahawk missiles and bombers in behalf of “regime change”, which was also the stated goal of the Obama Administration.
Now the White House is threatening to bomb Syria again, but this time its “regime change” objective has been expanded to include both sides! In 12 short months what had been the allegedly heroic Sunni opposition to the “brutal rule” of the Assad/Alawite minority has transmuted into the “greatest terrorist threat ever,” according to the Secretary of Defense.
So Obama has already unleashed the drones and surveillance apparatus to identify targets of attack that will help bring down a regime in northern and eastern Syria — the so-called Islamic State — which did not even exist a year ago. And a regime that is now armed to the teeth with America’s own latest and greatest weaponry as previously supplied to the disintegrated Iraqi army and the Syrian rebels trained by the CIA in Jordan.
Adding to this blinding farce is the warning of Syria’s Foreign Affairs minister that Obama should please to request permission before he rains destruction from the sky on the Opposition — -that is, the opposition to the very same Damascus regime, which the White House has vowed to eradicate. Needless to say, the Washington apparatus is having nothing to do with aiding the enemy of its new enemy:
White House spokesman Josh Earnest on Monday tried to tamp down the notion that action against the Islamic State group could bolster Assad, saying, “We’re not interested in trying to help the Assad regime.” However, he acknowledged that “there are a lot of cross pressures.”
In fact, there is apparently an option emerging from the bowels of the war machine that calls for an odd/even day plan to bomb both sides, thereby making clear that Washington is an equal opportunity spanker. Apparently, whether you use a 12th century sword or 20th century attack helicopter as a means of rule, you will be bombed by the “indispensable nation,” as Obama put it, adding that “no other nation can do what we do.”
Well, that involves some “doing.” According to AP, it appears that Syrian airstrikes are imminent, but could be carried out under the odd/even day plan:
“In an effort to avoid unintentionally strengthening the Syrian government, the White House could seek to balance strikes against the Islamic State with attacks on Assad regime targets.”
Is any more evidence needed that Washington has gone stark raving mad than even the possibility that such an absurd option could be under consideration? Has not the imperial city on the Potomac become so inured to its pretensions of global hegemony and to instant resort to deployment of its war machine that any semblance of rationality and coherence has been dissolved?
Indeed, in the context of Syria’s fractured and riven tribal, religious and political splinters how could anyone in their right mind think that a bombing campaign without boots on the ground will accomplish anything other than function as a potent recruiting tool for ISIS, and a generator of jihadist blowback for years to come. By the same token, the White House’s polling machine surely documents that an outright Iraq-style invasion of the Islamic State is overwhelmingly opposed by the American people, and rightly so.
Accordingly, the silly, hapless man in the Oval Office stumbles forward, apparently unaware that he’s not merely playing video games during his sojourns in the Situation Room. Indeed, the make-believe “nuanced” bombing options that are likely to be ground out by the national security machinery are destined to fail and drag Washington ever deeper into the violent cauldron of Mesopotamia and the Levant. The trillions of treasure wasted, the millions of lives lost and the venomous tribal enmities resulting from Washington’s misbegotten ventures in Iraq and Afghanistan provide all the proof that is needed.
The fact is, the artificial states created by the Sykes-Picot map drawn up by the French and British foreign offices in 1916 — as they carved up the Ottoman empire — are now destined for the dustbin of history. The fracturing remnants of Syria and Iraq cannot be fused back together by means of lethal deposits of metal and chemicals delivered by tomahawks and F-16s.
So let the region rearrange itself without Washington’s unwelcome meddling and mayhem. If Turkey and an independent Kurdistan can make mutually acceptable political and economic arrangements, which are already well-advanced, so be it. If the Shiite south in Iraq and the Alawite/Shiite southwest in Syria break-off from their present Europe-bequeathed boundaries and form independent regimes, how does that jeopardize the safety and security of the citizens of Lincoln NE and Spokane WA?
And, yes, if the Islamic State temporarily manages to coalesce within the Sunni lands of the Euphrates Valley and the upper Tigress why is that really a national security threat which requires launching an unwinnable war, a new round of hostility to America in the Islamic world and the blowback of legions of jihadi with a score to settle?
Now that you know about the Yazidis, did you ever hear of the Sheitaat tribe of Sunnis who inhabit the minor oil province around Deir al-Zor in northeastern Syria? There appear to be about 100,000 members of that sect in the region and they have been declared apostates by the medieval butchers who run ISIS:
Hundreds of members of the Sheitaat clan have been executed after their tribe refused to submit to Islamic State. The entire tribe have been deemed “hostile apostates” by the group, an offshoot of al Qaeda that has declared a “caliphate” in the territory it holds.
Islamic State has declared the Sheitaat tribe “an unbelieving sect” that should be fought as if they were infidels, according to a report from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which tracks violence in the Syrian war.
At least 700 hundred members of the tribe have already been executed, the Observatory reported on Aug. 16. Another 1,800 are still missing after being detained by Islamic State, according to the Observatory, which gathers information from all sides in the Syrian war. Its efforts to pledge allegiance to Islamic State have been rebuffed.
Pictures of the bodies of men apparently slain by Islamic State fighters in Sheitaat areas are surfacing every day, said Rami Abdelrahman, founder of the Observatory. “We have repeatedly expressed concerns about extermination,” he said. “It is the first time that the Islamic State has used these (religious) concepts against an entire tribe,” he said.
Three Sheitaat villages seized by Islamic State have been designated as a military zone, the rebel and another activist from the area said. The clan’s property and livestock have also been seized, another person from the area said.
Islamic State has declared that no truce is possible with the Sheitaat, that its prisoners can be killed, and its women are unfit for marriage, according to the Observatory.
“We’re still seeing Islamic State trucks loaded up with furniture and rugs from Sheitaat homes in those villages, which are now totally abandoned,” said one person from the area contacted by Internet link, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Islamic State has started to use house demolitions as a punishment. A video posted over the weekend shows what appears to be the detonation of a rural home as the narrator, who identifies himself as from Islamic State, explains that the home belongs to Sheitaat “apostates”.
Why would you believe that a viable state can be built in today’s world on the tactics of Genghis Kahn? The Islamic State, such as it is, is not rich, does not have enough oil to make a difference, will soon be bogged down in the insuperable problems of governance by the sword and will flounder on the impoverished economics of the dusty villages and desert expanse which comprise its natural territory. And it will eventually mobilize its neighbors — -Turkey, Hezbollah, the rump regime of Assad’s Alawite Syria, Kurdistan, the Shiite alliance of Iran and lower Iraq, and even Saudi Arabia and the oil sheikdoms — to contain its external ambitions.
So Washington should call off the bombers and get out of harm’s way. The American Imperium has failed and the prospect of bombing both sides of an irrelevant non-country’s ancient tribal wars ought, at last, to make that much clear.
Obama’s No-Win War on ISIS
Shamus Cooke / AntiWar.com
(August 27, 2014) — The newest crisis in the Middle East has sucked the US into yet another insoluble military problem. Obama is again considering a bombing campaign in Syria after infamously not bombing the country last year. This time, however, he’s not targeting his enemy Bashar al-Assad, but his enemy’s enemy — ISIS — now referred to as the Islamic State.
By attacking the Islamic State in Syria, Obama will become a de facto ally of the Syrian government, just as Obama and ISIS were de facto allies when they were both targeting Bashar al-Assad. Most Americans are likely fed up with Obama’s zigzagging foreign policy, and with each new U-turn support drops for the next war.
But the US has no plans to leave the Middle East to its own devices, and “fixing” the current problems will mean that Obama will need to tear up the patchwork of alliances previously pieced together amid past US wars. The next US-led “solution” will only compound the catastrophe, and continue the senseless logic of permanent war.
The situation has become so absurd that the US is now spending millions of dollars bombing US-made military equipment in Iraq — itself worth millions, previously gifted to the Iraqi government and then taken by ISIS.
Obama’s constant Middle East flip-flops have made it difficult to keep allies. After having built a coalition of nations to wage a proxy war against Bashar al-Assad, Obama backed out of his promised air strikes last year, in effect abandoning his anti-Syrian partners, many of whom still bear a grudge.
As a result, Obama faces a “credibility gap,” as does anyone who doesn’t do what they say they’re going to do. Obama also said he supported a two-state solution in Palestine, but then backed Israel 100 percent in its ongoing slaughter against the Palestinians and its continued building of settlements.
Obama also promised to wage a “war on terror,” but allowed the growth of jihadi movements in his fight against the Libyan and Syrian governments, since they were de facto allies against the targeted governments. This is one of the reasons given by Middle East journalist Patrick Cockburn on why the “war on terror” failed.
But there are other reasons Obama has few allies to fight ISIS. The unbreakable bond between the US and the Saudi dictatorship can never be too public, since the overwhelming majority of Saudis hate the United States government, as do the vast majority of people across the Middle East, according to a recent poll.
Why do they hate the US government? Unlike the American media perception of US foreign policy goofily stumbling from one good-intentioned mishap to the next, the average person in the Middle East views the American military as a sociopathic power hell-bent on annihilation.
Obama also has to keep Israel at arms length as he searches for war allies in the Middle East, since Israel is the only country hated more than the United States in the region, for the exact same reasons. Thus, teaming up with Israel would worsen Obama’s horrible image in the Middle East.
Many mainstream media publications have recognized Obama’s crisis of allies and are pushing Obama to make new friends, fast. An increasingly popular plan among the mainstream media is to have the US make yet another U-turn and officially ally with the Syrian government, after many of these same publications had been previously urging Obama to attack it.
Interestingly, the Syrian government recently said that it would welcome US airstrikes, but only if Syria were notified first. Without officially allying or “cooperating” with Assad, Obama’s air strikes in Syria will be a breach of national sovereignty, and Assad likely knows that when a tiger gets its paw in the front door it’s not long until it dominates the house.
Obama, however, continues to shun President Assad, recently adding that “Assad is part of the problem.”
Instead, the most “popular” idea seems to be the same one that has failed for the past three years in Syria: create a “moderate” opposition to the Syrian government that would also fight the Islamic extremists. The Guardian explains:
“The favored option, according to two [Obama] administration officials, is to press forward with a training mission, led by elite special operations forces, aimed at making non-jihadist Syrians an effective proxy force. But the rebels are outgunned and outnumbered by Isis and the administration still has not received $500m from Congress for its rebel training plans.”
To continue to advocate for this “plan” after three years of failures is to grasp at already-combusted straws.
The Syrian opposition is completely dominated by Islamic extremists, a fact which nobody seriously contests. But Obama would like to create a whole new “moderate” fighting force out of his armpit, powerful enough to tackle both the Syrian government and the Islamic State. Fantasy quickly reaches its limits in war.
Middle East journalist Patrick Cockburn explains:
“There is a pretense in Washington and elsewhere that there exists a â€˜moderate’ Syrian opposition being helped by the US, Qatar, Turkey, and the Saudis. It is, however, weak and getting more so by the day.”
“Jihadi groups ideologically close to al-Qaâ€˜ida have been relabeled as moderate if their actions are deemed supportive of US policy aims.”
This “relabeled” type of moderate is what Obama would like to grow in Syria. For example, the US-backed “moderate” group, the Islamic Front, is dominated by the extremist group ahrar al sham.
A more realistic — though equally reckless — solution that Obama is suddenly pursuing is arming the Kurds to the teeth, which creates an entirely new set of regional problems. The Kurds have large populations in several Middle East countries, though most notably Iraq, Syria, Turkey, and Iran.
The Kurds have long wanted their own nation, which they likely believe that the US will help them get, since giving a population tons of guns — Obama’s plan — is the first step toward carving out a chunk of land. And although the Kurds have been a long-oppressed minority group that deserves its own country, carving a country out of land already claimed by other nations isn’t done without war, and lots of it.
Here’s how the Guardian explained Obama’s brand-new Kurdish alliance:
“Obama needs the Kurds, and he knows it. They are largely secular and pro-Western, but also maintain dynamic ties to both Iran and Turkey. They offer a potential base from which the US can stage counterterrorism operations against Isis. . . It [Kurdistan] offers a stable, economically prosperous buffer zone right at the intersection of several regional conflicts.”
Although the mainstream media has suddenly discovered the â€˜Kurdistan’ strategy, many analysts have long speculated assumed it as being the “grand plan” for US foreign policy in the Middle East: the main purpose would be to create a new nation and regional power — Kurdistan — that would be loyal to the US and thus serve as a countervailing force to the anti-US “Shiite crescent” countries of Iran, Syria, Iraq (under al-Maliki) and Hezbollah in Lebanon.
A key part of creating the new Kurdistan would require the partition of Iraq into three separate nations, which has been advocated by Vice President Joseph Biden.
This idea — having long been considered a “conspiracy theory” — appears to be manifesting before our very eyes, especially when Vice President’s official plan of a “soft partition” is gaining popularity in D.C.
The above cluster of irrational events are based on one fundamentally incorrect assumption: that the US can create and maintain steadfast allies through military interventions, which inevitably attract the hatred of every Middle Eastern person. This false assumption is why Obama’s foreign policy has mirrored Bush, Jr.’s: creating disaster on top of disaster, leaving a strong stench of death in its wake.
And with each new military intervention in the “war on terror” the jihadist movement grows exponentially, born amid the rubble of US-destroyed Iraq, Libya, and Syria, and groomed to maturity by US allies Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and other Gulf States.
Such an irrational, never-ending cycle of war cannot last forever. It is already collapsing under the weight of its own contradictions.
Shamus Cooke is a social service worker, trade unionist, and writer for Workers Action (www.workerscompass.org). He can be reached at shamuscooke@gmail
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