Sunday, February 22, 2015

ISIS On the "Highway to Heaven" — Who Will Put Up the Roadblocks

ISIS parading around in Libya
Scenes all Too Familiar Around the Globe

In Syria

In  Iraq


ISIS Own Map

I have worked on this for a while for my own edification and hopefully yours, too. I have used a lot of different sources to get to the point of asking: (1) How did the ME get into this mess, and (2) How did the U.S. get in so deep, then got out, and now about to get back in again, and probably much deeper?

I see no need to rehash how or why we went into Afghanistan (revenge for 9-11 to get bin Laden, et al), or the fact we are still there and may even stay longer, if ISIS makes moves there. Also, not necessary to rehash the invasion of Iraq and all that entailed, suffice it to say, it was and remains a mess.

I want to flashback to March 2011, when militants in Libya finally got the courage to overthrow Qaddafi along with the help of NATO and US air strikes that we all saw on the news. The goal was to oust Muammar Qaddafi and it worked – he was captured and killed, but then after praiseworthy speeches (the U.S. included) chaos followed with zero stability that continues until today. Many have called for NATO and the U.S. to come back and finish the job. I tend to agree in part.

So, now more than three years after that French-led NATO military action helped oust Qaddafi, two rival governments are competing for legitimacy, and thus control over the country's oil wealth. Right in the middle of that mess, we see Libya falling apart and guess who steps into fill that void there just as they did in Syria with that other mess? That is right: ISIS.

Everyone in that region says and agrees that Libya is fertile ground for terrorism and all sorts of criminal activities. The U.S. effort in Libya was noteworthy but with poor results even with the praise about the death of Qaddafi, even with his off-and-on again relationship with the West dating back to the name-calling days of President Reagan due to Libyan involvement in nastiness around the globe. He was a bad guy we basically winked at as we have so many others like him over the years. But, it good that Qaddafi is gone. The results, however, are not so hot. It is not what was expected or that anyone wanted, including us in the West. But, that ship has sailed.

At the same time Qaddafi getting ready to meet his maker, the same “Arab Spring” was starting to spring up in Syria – in fact the same month and year (March 2011) and with a similar goal: get rid of al-Assad, which is exactly what ISIS wanted, too. They wanted him out so they could step in, fill the void, get their own country and set up a nasty, narrow-minded religious Caliphate.

So, here we are today with the U.S. smack dab in the middle carrying out air strikes and sending advisers and trainers back into Iraq to help beat back the advances of ISIS to help preserve a fragile Iraq – one that we basically a mess of, and then we bailed out thinking we were leaving it for good and in good hands – we did not and they are not.  

Back to Syria. Washington's policy is the exact opposite: there the main opponent of ISIS is the Syrian government and the Syrian Kurds in their northern enclaves. Both are under attack from ISIS, which has taken about a third of the country, including most of its oil and gas production facilities. Ironically, or pathetically, U.S., Western European, Saudi, and Arab Gulf policy is to overthrow al-Assad, but ironically, that happens to be the same policy of ISIS and other Jihadists there in force and growing. 

If al-Assad in Syria goes, then ISIS will be the beneficiary, since they are either defeating or absorbing the rest of the Syrian armed opposition. There is this pretense in Washington and elsewhere that there exists a “moderate Syrian opposition” being is being helped by the U.S., Qatar, Turkey, and the Saudis. It is, however, weak and getting more so by the day. Soon the new ISIS/Caliphate may stretch from the Iranian border to the Mediterranean and the only force that can possibly stop this from happening is the Syrian army.

The reality of American has been to support Iraq, but not Syria, against ISIS. But one reason that group has been able to grow so strong in Iraq is that it can draw on its resources and fighters in Syria. Not everything that went wrong in Iraq was the fault of former PM Nouri al-Maliki, as has now become the political and media consensus in the West.

Iraqi politicians have said for years that foreign backing for the Sunni revolt in Syria would inevitably destabilize their country as well. That is now well underway.

By continuing contradictory policies in the two countries *Iraq and Syria, the U.S. has ensured that ISIS can reinforce its fighters in Iraq from Syria and vice versa.

So far, Washington has been successful in escaping blame for the rise of ISIS by putting all the blame on the Iraqi government. In fact, it has created a situation in which ISIS can survive and may well flourish.

This is real mess caused by and now owned basically by the West, and there no innocents except the people who suffer from nasty political gamesmanship, whether in the name of our brand of Western democracy (which will not fit there), or the brand those in they region say they want and choose, which is not clearly defined except in most cases in strict religious terms. 

Blaming won’t help stop ISIS, either. They have spread some pretty awful nasty shit that the world has seen. Now lucky for us, Jordan and Egypt are striking back and rightly so, albeit a little late.

The “Arab Spring” was good since the people, and rightly so, sprung up and said “Gaddafi and al-Assad have to go, give us a voice and freedom.” That was a just cause and NATO and U.S. stepped in the help to stop the slaughter, and it worked but  he results are terrible since we abandoned the very people we wanted to see free.

Talking about this mess in Syria and Iraq and Libya and Yemen and God knows where it may spread next, must be stopped… ISIS must be stopped. Massive military force must be used to retake places they now occupy – but along with Jordan, Egypt, the Saudis, Turkey, and others on the right side of justice just step up and step in … the results must be the people’s voice – not ISIS or some other Qaddafi or al-Assad stepping in – the region has long had enough of that.

Details for this piece were extracted from these fine sources:

  1. The BBC here
  2. Mother Jones here
  3. The Africa Report here
  4. The Independent Sentinel here
  5. USA Today: The GOP Anti-Obama Blame Game here
Thanks for stopping — I hope you enjoyed the read. 

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