ISIS: Made in Washington, Riyadh – and Tel Aviv

ISIS spreading its message online.

By Justin Raimondo

If we step back from the hysteria generated by the beheading of US journalist James Foley, what’s clear is that this new bogeyman is the creation of the United States and its allies in the region.

ISIS didn’t just arise out of the earth like some Islamist variation on the fabled Myrmidons: they needed money, weapons, logistics, propaganda facilities, and international connections to reach the relatively high level of organization and lethality they seem to have achieved in such a short period of time. Where did they get these assets?

None of this is any secret: Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the rest of the oil-rich Gulf states have been backing them all the way. Prince Bandar al-Sultan, until recently the head of the Kingdom’s intelligence agency – and still the chief of its National Security Council – has been among their biggest backers. Qatar and the Gulf states have also been generous in their support for the Syrian jihadists who were too radical for the US to openly back. Although pressure from Washington – only recently exerted – has reportedly forced them to cut off the aid, ISIS is now an accomplished fact – and how can anyone say that support has entirely evaporated instead of merely going underground?

Washington’s responsibility for the success of ISIS is less direct, but no less damning.

The US was in a de facto alliance with the groups that merged to form ISIS ever since President Barack Obama declared Syria’s Bashar al-Assad “must go” – and Washington started funding Syrian rebel groups whose composition and leadership kept changing. By funding the Free Syrian Army (FSA), our “vetted” Syrian Islamists, this administration has actively worked to defeat the only forces capable of rooting out ISIS from its Syrian nest – Assad’s Ba’athist government. Millions of dollars in overt aid – and who knows how much covertly? – were pumped into the FSA. How much of that seeped into the coffers of ISIS when constantly forming and re-forming chameleon-like rebel groups defected from the FSA? These defectors didn’t just go away: they joined up with more radical – and militarily effective – Islamist militias, some of which undoubtedly found their way to ISIS.

How many ISIS cadres who started out in the FSA were trained and equipped by American “advisors” in neighboring Jordan? We’ll never know the exact answer to that question, but the number is very likely not zero – and this Mother Jones piece shows that, at least under the Clinton-Petraeus duo, the “vetting” process was a joke. Furthermore, Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) may well have been on to something when he confronted Hillary with the contention that some of the arms looted from Gaddafi’s arsenals may well have reached the Syrian rebels. There was, after all, the question of where that mysterious “charity ship,” the Al Entisar, carrying “humanitarian aid” to the Syrian rebels headquartered in Turkey, sailed from.

Secondly, the open backing by the US of particular Syrian rebel groups no doubt discredited them in the eyes of most Islamist types, driving them away from the FSA and into the arms of ISIS. When it became clear Washington wasn’t going to provide air support for rebel actions on the ground, these guys left the FSA in droves – and swelled the ranks of groups that eventually coalesced into ISIS.

Thirdly, the one silent partner in all this has been the state of Israel. While there is no evidence of direct Israeli backing, the public statements of some top Israeli officials lead one to believe Tel Aviv has little interest in stopping the ISIS threat – except, of course, to urge Washington to step deeper into the Syrian quagmire.

In a recent public event held at the Aspen Institute, former Israeli ambassador to the US Michael Oren bluntly stated that in any struggle between the Sunni jihadists and their Iranian Shi’ite enemies, the former are the “lesser evil.” They’re all “bad guys,” says Oren, but “we always wanted Bashar Assad to go, we always preferred the bad guys who weren’t backed by Iran to the bad guys who were backed by Iran.” Last year, Sima Shine, Israel’s Minister of Strategic Affairs, declared:

“The alternative, whereby [Assad falls and] Jihadists flock to Syria, is not good. We have no good options in Syria. But Assad remaining along with the Iranians is worse. His ouster would exert immense pressure on Iran.”

Full article at Antiwar.com

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