Late Night: President Obama, Syria, and ISIS
Just in case some folk still thought there were such things as “moderate Sunni rebels” being funded in Syria by Saudi and Kuwaiti armchair jihadists — as if finding out that “moderate Sunni rebels” sold Steven Sotloff to ISIS wasn’t enough to disabuse anyone of that notion — this bit of news should hammer the final nail in that coffin:
As the United States begins to deepen ties with moderate Syrian rebels to combat the extremist group ISIS, also known as the Islamic State, a key component of its coalition appears to have struck a non-aggression pact with the group.
According to Agence France-Presse, ISIS and a number of moderate and hard-line rebel groups have agreed not to fight each other so that they can focus on taking down the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Other sources say the signatories include a major U.S. ally linked to the Free Syrian Army. Moreover, the leader of the Free Syrian Army said Saturday that the group would not take part in U.S. plans for destroying the Islamic State until it got assurances on toppling Assad.
So which do you prefer, Mr. President? Crushing ISIS, or crushing Assad? You cannot do both.
First of all, let’s all admit the real reason why both neoconservatives and neoliberals hate guys like Saddam Hussein and Bashar Assad, as well as governments like that of Iran.
It’s not because of their violence. Cheney and Rumsfeld stood by and smiled when Saddam Hussein “gassed his own people“, meaning the Kurds, back when he was actually doing it; it was only when Ahmad Chalabi (who by the way was and still is in tight with the Iranians) convinced them that they didn’t need Saddam Hussein anymore, that suddenly Cheney et al started verbally objecting, years after the fact. And of course many members of the Coalition of the Billing (sorry, “Willing”) were just as nasty as Saddam, if not more so. (Go look up “uzbekistan karimov boil alive” in most any search engine, for starters.)
It’s because of the neocon/neoliberal capitalist freakout over any person, place, nation, or thing that might have the faintest whiff of a planned economy. You know, one that is run in the national interest if not the people’s interest, rather than the rentiers’ interests?
Saddam’s Baathist government was run along Arab Socialist or Pan-Arab authoritarian lines, somewhat in the tradition of Nasser’s Egypt. So, to an extent, is Assad’s Baathist Alawite government in Syria. The Iranian government isn’t Baathist as that, along with Pan-Arabism, is generally seen as a Sunni-dominated movement; however, neither do they allow the interests of business entities to come before those of the nation.
The wealthy Sunnis in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, heavily capitalist themselves in their own special ways, are more than happy to exploit the capitalist Neos’ visceral antipathy towards countries that aren’t run roughshod by multinational businesses, in order to further their long-held daydreams of eliminating non-Sunni versions of Islam, such as Alawitism in Syria and Shiite beliefs throughout the world.
But in creating, promoting, and feeding the various insurgencies against Assad in Syria, the armchair jihadis in the KSA and Kuwait managed to create ISIS. And, as noted above, there really is no daylight between ISIS and the “moderate” rebels. There are groups like the Nusra Front, who make a point of freeing a captive or two (or 45) whenever ISIS takes a short dull knife to somebody’s throat, but they aren’t “moderates”, just another group of jihadists who, like ISIS, would like to install a Sunni-run government in Syria and eventually a full-blown Caliphate, but want themselves and not ISIS to run it.
That’s why, as Patrick Cockburn states, Obama is going to have to choose between continuing to attack Assad (and pleasing the Saudis) or truly committing to neutralize ISIS, because he cannot do both. Period.
(As an aside, contrary to popular belief, not every single act of terror, not even those committed by Al Qaeda, is done with the intent to draw persons into the fight or into Iraq. The Madrid and London bombings, for instance, were done to make the Spanish and Britons leave Iraq immediately; it worked, in the case of Spain. And if the beheadings are all about tricking the United States into jumping into Yet Another Quagmire, then why was the latest victim a British aid worker?)