Solving The Daesh (ISIS) Riddle
It has been said that you can’t fight an idea. In 2007 “The Surge” in Iraq defeated Al-Qaeda but it didn’t defeat the extreme fundamentalist ideology. That very same group and ideology morphed into Daesh (ISIS) who, in an amazing and somewhat convenient feat of military brilliance, took advantage of the chaos in Syria and now controls large parts of both Iraq and Syria. After a year of air strikes they have been degraded, they have lost key towns and territory and yet the situation in Iraq is described as “stalemate” and in Syria “as strong as they were before air strikes“. Many are calling for a full ground assault to wipe the Caliphate off the map. But that is what Daesh wants. The jihadists have another, more important, objective: to draw Western armies back to the Middle East in full force. They believe a Mohammad prophecy that the army of Islam will defeat the armies of “Rome” on the plains of Dabiq (northern Syria) and kick off the countdown to Armageddon. However unlikely it is that Daesh could defeat a Western army in a conventional battle, sending troops into Syria can only help to rally mainstream Arab support by portraying foreign troops as imperialists determined to occupy Muslim lands.
ISIS: Saudi Shock Troops
After 4 years of war and almost 300,000 people dead we now have a proxy war the likes of which have not been seen since Vietnam. Assad is still in power, now propped up by Russia and Iran. Islamist groups such as Al-Qaeda and Jabhat al-Nusra are now more powerful and heavily armed than ever thanks to Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Daesh has seized the opportunity and become the most frightening Jihadi force the world has ever seen, directly funded by oligarchs in Saudi Arabia and Qatar plus Turkey that buys its oil to the tune of $50,000,000 per month. The West is arming and training anyone that will fight Assad despite the majority of its fighters (together with Western weaponry) defecting to Islamist groups or Daesh. The West arms the Kurds and provides them with air support. Turkey then bombs the Kurds. Daesh fights Assad and Kurds, the Western powers bomb Daesh and Russia bombs everyone.
If Daesh is the new boogeyman then surely it’s pretty clear who who the real enemy is. While we bomb them and arm militias to fight them our awesome allies in the region are providing direct assistance. If we were serious about defeating Daesh we would insist Saudi Arabia and Qatar clamp down on its wealthy citizens that fund the group. If we were serious about defeating Daesh we would punish Turkey for buying their cheap oil. If we were serious about defeating Daesh we would stop funneling arms to “moderate” rebel elements that turn over these arms to the group.
ISIS: Turkey’s Kurdish Offensive
A year ago, in a much under-reported piece by Newsweek a former Daesh communications technician, who had travelled to Syria to fight the regime of Bashir al-Assad, offered a rare insight into Turkey’s complicity with Daesh. The former jihadi fighter told Newsweek that Turkey was allowing Daesh trucks from Raqqa to cross the “border, through Turkey and then back across the border to attack Syrian Kurds in the city of Serekaniye in northern Syria in February.” Daesh militants would freely travel “through Turkey in a convoy of trucks,” and stop “at safe houses along the way.” The former communication technician also admitted that he would routinely “connect ISIS field captains and commanders from Syria with people in Turkey on innumerable occasions,” adding that “the people they talked to were Turkish officials… ISIS commanders told us to fear nothing at all because there was full cooperation with the Turks.”
Earlier this year a Turkish newspaper called Today’s Zaman reported that “more than 100,000 fake Turkish passports” had been given to Daesh. And let’s not forget the $2-3 million in daily oil revenue that Turkey is providing to Daesh. And we’re not even done yet. A senior Western official familiar with a large cache of intelligence obtained this summer told the Guardian that “direct dealings between Turkish officials and ranking ISIS members was now ‘undeniable.’”
The same official confirmed that Turkey, a longstanding member of NATO, is not just supporting Daesh, but also other jihadist groups, including Ahrar al-Sham and Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria. “The distinctions they draw [with other opposition groups] are thin indeed,” said the official. “There is no doubt at all that they militarily cooperate with both.”
If you are confused I certainly can’t blame you. After all, the media conditions us on a daily basis that ISIS is great existential threat to our civilisation. Woefully ignorant and blatantly dishonest politicians make speeches about how we need to crush this abomination. Meanwhile Daesh themselves are happy to be used as a pawn in this game of geopolitical chess (or is it russian roulette). But by themselves they are incredibly weak. Our “allies” give them strength.
ISIS: Part Of The Plan
So now you begin to understand that no-one is interested in stopping Daesh – except Russia and Iran. Daesh are an integral part of the goal to remove Assad and if that means there will be a Caliphate in eastern Syria and Western Iraq then that is but part of the price that Saudi Arabia is willing to pay.
A 2012 declassified Pentagon report on the situation in Syria shows that US intelligence was well aware of the possibility that Sunni extremists working to destabilise the Assad government might move to establish a proto-state in eastern Syria based around orthodox, ultra-conservative, Sunni Islam.
To translate, the “Supporting Powers” being Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey want to isolate Assad from Iran and deal a critical blow to the Shia Crescent. So while the world cries about the rise and spread of radical Islam, the West is actively supporting the spread of the ideology in the destabilisation of Syria. In the battle of ideologies, we are clearly on the wrong side. If the realities were not so brutal the situation in Syria would be pure comedy, a script in a satirical piece on The Onion.
There is a lot of conspiracy theory nonsense surrounding ISIS or Daesh or whatever we’re calling these psychopaths now. There is no need to speculate on whether the CIA is dropping crates of weapons to Daesh, or that John McCain had his photo taken with Daesh terrorists. We can argue about the depths to which the US is complicit – either directly or indirectly – in the creation of ISIS but the stone cold hard fact is that the West and it’s regional allies have been using radical Sunni extremism as a force to destabilise Syria from the very beginning.
Once we understand the role Daesh is playing we can then understand how a year of US air strikes hasn’t sought to defeat Daesh, but merely contain them. And while they can be contained physically their ideology is not constrained by any borders and the result is terrorism in Paris, Beirut and coming to a city near you soon.
The Saudi Gambit
Ideologically speaking Daesh is just the red-haired stepchild of the ultra-orthodox Salafist regime in Riyadh. Unfortunately for Saudi Arabia, where it had to modernise its own brand of Wahhabism due to having to court the Western powers in the advent of the oil boom, Daesh have no such restraints and is strictly Wahhabist – and this presents a real danger to the Saudi monarchy. Abd al-Wahhab (the founder of Wahhabism) argued that all Muslims must individually pledge their allegiance to a single Muslim leader, a Caliph, but later amended his doctrine to the Three Pillars on which the whole of Sunni authoritarian rule presently rests – “One Ruler, One Authority, One Mosque” – taken respectively to refer to the Saudi king, the absolute authority of official Wahhabism, and its control of “the word” (i.e. the mosque). Therefore Daesh rejects the Saudi claim of authority to rule. Saudi Arabia is taking a huge gamble with its covert support of Daesh in its eagerness to topple Assad and is not immune to terrorist attacks from the radical group
Recently a reporter asked Obama, “Why can’t we take out these bastards?” and the answer is that we certainly could but if we did, one of the main forces opposing the Assad regime would be gone and not only that, the US would no longer have an excuse to be in Syria, which would leave the country’s political future entirely up to Russia and Iran and that is decidedly unacceptable not only for Washington, but for Riyadh, Ankara and Doha as well.
As long as we support radical Islamic regimes like Saudi Arabia, radical Islamic terrorism will continue to rear its ugly head in the Western world because Saudi Arabia is actively promulgating its terrible, ultra-orthodox brand of Sunni Islam. The West is supposed to be promoting democracy and change in the world but its actions in the Middle East demonstrate the exact opposite. We support brutal regimes that terrorise its people. We support an Israeli state that illegally occupies Palestinian lands. We instigate regime changing colour revolutions that leave behind failed states that self-destruct along sectarian lines. This drives resentment towards the West and this drives recruitment for Islamist groups wanting to wage jihad against the West.
We employ foreign policy that creates an environment where Islamist groups can flourish. We look the other way while our allies arm and finance them. We support regimes that ferment resentment towards us and drive people into these Islamist groups. We then bomb the shit out of them creating an environment where Islamist groups can flourish. We look the other way while our allies arm and finance them. We support regimes that ferment resentment towards us……