On August 17, 2014, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sent an email to then-Counselor to the President John Podesta concerning American foreign policy in the Middle East. The email, now published by Wikileaks, offers Clinton’s views on how to deal with ISIS and navigate the various players in the region.
One piece of information in the email that is likely to cause serious concern is Clinton affirming the role US allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar played in supporting and promoting ISIS. Clinton told Podesta, “While this military/para-military operation is moving forward, we need to use our diplomatic and more traditional intelligence assets to bring pressure on the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL and other radical Sunni groups in the region.”
The Saudis have vehemently denied supporting ISIS. In fact, in June of 2014, the Saudi government severely rebuked then-Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for suggesting the Saudis supported ISIS, labeling the claim a “malicious falsehood.” Apparently, Maliki was on to something.
John Podesta and his family have extensive financial ties to Saudi Arabia. The Podesta Group, co-founded by John and now run by his brother Tony, was at one point being paid $140,000 a month by the Saudis, with Tony personally managing the Saudi account.
Hillary Clinton had good reason to be clandestine about her views of Saudi Arabia at the time. As secretary of state, she presided over one of the largest defense deals in history. It was with the Saudis and it was worth $29 billion. The historic arms deal happened as the Saudis were giving millions to the Clinton Foundation.
The weapons sold under the deal are currently being used for war crimes in Yemen. The Saudis recently launched an attack on a funeral in Yemen, using a US-manufactured 500-pound laser-guided bomb. US-made cluster bombs have also shown up on the battlefield, which were part of the Clinton-negotiated arms deal.
In the leaked email, Clinton called ISIS’ success an “opportunity” to change strategies on US foreign policy in the Middle East and to demonstrate, particularly to Turkey, that “we are willing to take serious actions, which can be sustained to protect our national interests.”
Clinton also continually references the Free Syrian Army (FSA) as “moderate” rebels in Syria worthy of US support. By the end of 2014, FSA was mostly disbanded and currently no longer exists as a factor on the ground. It was overtaken by jihadists groups like Al Qaeda-linked Al-Nusra (now Fateh Al-Sham), which is currently receiving US weapons. What could go wrong?
The email also will likely lead to some damage assessments. Clinton makes references to a clandestine source in Libya and also emailed Podesta’s gmail account from her unsecured personal server.