Past interventions helped create Isis and al-Qaida. Have Britain and the US not learned?
Sami Ramadani Guardian/UK 11 September 2014
In announcing his new strategy to tackle the terrorist insurgency in Iraq, President Obama has put the US on a dangerous collision course with Syria, the Lebanese resistance led by Hezbollah, and the biggest obstacle to US and Israeli regional hegemony: Iran.
The so-called war on Isis (Islamic State) is, in reality, the same war that the US and Britain abandoned last year due to public opposition, the anti-war vote in Britain’s parliament, and the determination of Iran and Russia to back Syria. But the savagery of Isis and the beheading of two American hostages have dampened public opposition to further military intervention in the region, and has boosted hawks in Washington and London.
A few days before Obama’s war-on-Isis speech, the former secretary of state Henry Kissinger revealed the US roadmap in much clearer terms than Obama could, stating that despite Isis occupying large parts of Iraq and Syria, the biggest danger to US interests is still Iran; Isis is vile but containable, but Iran is the really dangerous power, he stressed. This also chimes with Israel’s policies, as described by its recently departed ambassador to Washington that Iran-backed forces are more dangerous than al-Qaida. “The greatest danger to Israel is by the strategic arc that extends from Tehran, to Damascus to Beirut,” he said.
Broader still, Obama’s war will inevitably heighten tensions with Russia, China and their allies. If we include the confrontation lines being drawn by Nato along Russia’s borders, and US escalation of its military presence in the South China Sea, the evolving new cold war could rapidly degenerate into the greatest threat to world peace since 1939.
Following David Cameron’s agreement with Obama last week over a campaign against Isis, attention is now focusing on whether Britain should join in the airstrikes. But beyond hitching a ride on the US military juggernaut, has Cameron seriously considered the consequences of new war in Iraq and Syria? The policies of US, Britain and Nato helped to create Isis and al-Qaida in the first place. Doing more of the same could have similar consequences and cost thousands more lives.
And when the US, Britain and France decided in 2011 to back the armed groups in Syria, their goal was to bring about regime change – but the result was to strengthen the more brutal terrorist groups such as Isis and the al-Nusra Front, the “official” al-Qaida affiliate in Syria. For three years US allies Qatar and Saudi Arabia supplied billions of dollars to fund armed groups in Syria, while Nato member Turkey opened its borders for US and Nato supplies, as well as terrorists from across the world, to pour into Syria.
Have Obama and Cameron acknowledged any of that? On the contrary. The US and Britain have now decided to give even more arms and backing to Syrian “moderate” armed groups, who were the allies of Isis until recently and are still the allies of al-Nusra.
In Iraq the US and Britain created state institutions to entrench sectarian divisions with the aim of implementing the so-called Joe Biden plan to divide Iraq into three ethnic regions with, importantly, a very weak central government.
The US is now consolidating its military presence in Iraqi Kurdistan with the aim of creating yet another client force in the region. The president of the Kurdistan regional government, Masoud Barzani, is in fact harbouring former Saddam Hussein officers and allies of Isis who played a leading role in the fall of Mosul and the disintegration of three divisions of the US-founded Iraqi army, in the face of the Isis advance.
The real enemies of Isis and terror groups in the region are Syria, Iran, the Iraqi Christians, Yazidis, and Shia, Sunni, Kurdish and Turkmen people. If the US and Britain really want to fight Isis and terrorism – rather than using the Isis savagery to further their strategic aims of dominating the region and its resources – then they should reverse the policies they have been pursuing for decades. They should stop backing the armed groups in Syria and Iraq, and instruct their obedient allies in Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey to do the same.