Either this administration is being led around by the nose, or it has very sinister intentions. I am leaning toward the latter explanation. At any rate, last night we began a bombing campaign against the Islamic State in Syria. Joining us were Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, and Bahrain. Somewhere in the background, Qatar played an undefined role. Glaringly absent were Turkey, Egypt, and Israel, for very different reasons, as well as all of our European allies. Evidently, we got Syria's "permission", which is not surprising for reasons I will explain in a moment.
Let us review how we got to this point. The first mistake we made was in arming and training the Syrian "rebels" which, contrary to the continued denials by current and former administration officials, we have been doing for the past three years. By doing so, we helped to create this nightmare. We should have stayed out of it. "The West", by and large, does not understand the mindset of dictators and therefore has repeatedly misread the situation. We are under the impression that there are clear-cut "sides". There are not. The only "side" is them versus us ("the West"). The Arab world resents the results of World War I, and while they engage in tribal rivalries, when faced with their "real" foe, they will always band together against us. We should have heeded sound military doctrine, articulated by Prime Minister Netanyahu in a recent "Meet the Press" interview: "When your enemies are fighting, let them kill each other." Instead, as usual, we involved ourselves in something we did not understand.
Our second mistake was brought about by Barack Obama's big mouth: His "red line" in Syria. Had he never uttered those words I would never have supported the idea of getting involved in Syria in any way. However, once the words escaped his lips we had an obligation to back up those words. In August, 2013, when the "red line" was crossed (fourteen times, as I recall, the most egregious being August 23rd), we should have enforced it immediately. In fact, for three weeks it appeared we would. Israel was even convinced; they repositioned their Iron Dome battery in preparation for what would have been certain retribution against their nation for our military action. Yet, after three weeks of saber-rattling, what happened? Vladimir Putin rode in bare-chested on his white horse and saved the day...and we breathed a collective sigh of relief. What a complete and total misread of the situation, the results of which would be comical if they were not so serious.
Are we kidding? Russia to the rescue? We played right into Vladimir Putin's hand. After humiliating America with the red herring known as Edward Snowden (who did not reveal anything those "in the know" had not already known for at least ten years), complete with a New York Times editorial excoriating American "exceptionalism", Russia "saved the day". Or, did she? Reports are that Putin and al-Assad took a page out of Saddam Hussein's playbook and moved many of the chemical weapons to Lebanon, a nice prize for Hezbollah which puts Israel in even more danger.
What is really happening is a clever set-up.
So, why did Turkey not participate? Their hostages have ben released, if indeed they were ever really hostages. Turkey is in NATO and is supposed to be our ally. They are supposedly besieged by Syrian refugees and should have a stake in seeing the Islamic State defeated for Turkey's own self-preservation. Yet, they allow members of the IS to take refuge within their borders and are harboring Hamas leaders. Turkey's Muslim Brotherhood has contributed fighters to the Islamic State. Is Turkey truly our ally? Well, Erdogan is certainly Barack Obama's ally; they are both ardent supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood. But, is Turkey America's ally? Absolutely not.
What about Egypt? General el-Sisi appears to be benign, but the fact that he is a self-described "moderate Muslim" raises alarms, as does his connections to the Muslim Brotherhood. From all appearances, Barack Obama is not in el-Sisi's good graces at the moment because of the President's strong support of Mohamed Morsi, as well as his refusal to send military aid after Morsi's ouster, so that could be one reason Egypt is not participating. However, far more troublesome is el-Sisi's decision to accept that aid from Russia. Remember that Russia is allied with Syria and Iran, so where does that put the current president of Egypt? Things are not what they seem in that country.
Where is Israel? One possibility is she chose to stay away knowing she would be retaliated against. I tend to discount that explanation because Israel is already in the cross-hairs. The probability is that the Prime Minister is heeding his own advice, and letting his enemies kill each other.
Finally, what is really going on in Syria? I have already addressed some of how the Islamic State came to be, and I will go into more detail next time. But, how and why did this group supposedly splinter from the other "rebel" groups and become so powerful? One culprit is none other than Bashir al-Assad. At this point, the reader is convinced I have lost my mind. I assure you I have not. I have simply acquired a Middle Eastern mindset. Look at what has happened. Four years ago, John Kerry thought al-Assad was a great guy; it must have been all of those extravagant state dinners. When the civil war broke out, suddenly we realized the president of Syria is not so nice. So, we helped the "rebels". The result? Money is being funneled into the Jabhat al-Nusra front and al-Nakba, two groups even America agrees are not "moderate". Yes, some of that money comes from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, and other terror sponsors. But, some also came from Bashir al-Assad. To what end? 1) Divide and conquer; and, just in case number one backfires, 2) al-Assad becomes the lesser of two evils, and guess who comes to the rescue? "The West." Think about this: Since America is arming the "moderate 'rebels'", and al-Assad et. al. are arming the Islamic State, who are Syria and its allies really fighting? America.
Once again, we have been played for fools, and we walked right into it.
Meanwhile, Iran is waiting in the wings. They are playing both ends against the middle, and have been for decades. Listen carefully to the latest video released by the Islamic State:
Part Two: Iran
There is a well-known military saying: "The enemy who is known is better than the enemy who is not known". That is a lesson the United States has yet to learn. Prior to the public emergence of the Islamic State, if we had succeeded in deposing Bashar al-Assad, did we have any idea who would have taken his place, whether he would have been better or worse for Syria and, more importantly, the United States? Look at Libya. Reagan was very effective at neutralizing Muammar Qaddafi; after the dictator's son was killed in an air strike, America did not hear from Qaddafi again until 9/11 when he called President Bush to say, "It wasn't me! What can I do to help?" But, then we decided to get rid of him. Granted, he was not a good guy and likely had a hand in 9/11. But, what was the result of this regime change? Libya is now a country of renegade terrorist groups all vying for control, and four Americans are dead. Good job.
Look at the mess we created in Egypt. The list goes on. But, Iran is the best example of why America should stay out of Middle Eastern politics. After the Shah was deposed and exiled to the United States, the Ayatollah Khomeini took power and later that year "students" overran the American Embassy in Tehran and took 52 Americans hostage for 444 days. The Iranian Hostage Crisis was only the beginning of our problems with Iran. "The West" has to realize that, in the words of Prime Minister Netanyahu, "The Arabs do not hate the West because of Israel. They hate Israel because of the West" ("A Durable Peace"). What "The West" fails to understand is, the Arab world resents the results of World War I when, after the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the Arab world was carved up into "countries". They do not wish to be countries, and they have never gotten over what they view as colonial intervention in their region. So, here comes Hezbollah and most of us are aware of the many American deaths that have occurred as a result of the terrorist activities of this Iran-sponsored organization. This past March, the world was stunned to discover that an Iranian ship was seized by Israel containing rockets headed to Hamas in Gaza. After all, don't Hamas and Hezbollah hate each other? That just goes to show how little America understands the Middle East.
A lesser-known fact is Iran's involvement in Lockerbie and 9/11. The story did not make many headlines, but a few months ago the news broke that in fact Iran hired the PFLP (People's Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the PLO-offshoot responsible for Entebbe and many other terrorist activities) to blow up that plane. Yet, Iran has yet to be held responsible. Rumblings on 9/11 were that Iran was involved in the attack; Donald Rumsfeld was almost screaming for us to attack Iran, but of course no one was listening. We were too focused on hating Saudi Arabia and preparing to bomb Tora Bora. Do not misunderstand: Saudi Arabia was also involved, and the Taliban had to be dealt with. But, why virtually no mention of Iran? Are we afraid to deal with them? Perhaps we are worried about how Russia would react; I can only speculate on that. Or, maybe we are waiting for Israel. (Mr. Prime Minister, please take the cue. I realize why you have not done so to date, but some of us are awaiting your action with much anticipation.) But, Iran has clearly been involved in countless terrorist attacks against Americans over the past 35 years, and has gotten a pass every time. Why?
Did the reader catch the reference in the IS video above to 1979? The Islamic State was boasting through John Cantlie, and in giving their fighting resume said the "mujahedeen have been fighting since 1979", which to me raised immediate alarm bells. Was the real birthplace of the Islamic State in Iran? I have often compared what is happening in the Middle East to a massive chess game. Guess where chess originated? Persia (Iran). There has been much admiration (if you can call it that) about the patience exhibited by al-Qaeda in waiting for the "right" time for its attacks. Chess is nothing but patience. One move at a time, waiting for a wrong move by your opponent so you can swoop in for the "kill". What if Iran has been playing a 35-year-long chess match with us?
I gave a brief rundown of Islam in a previous post, and I will go into it some more in my next update, which will be centered around Obama's speech before the United Nations yesterday. As fate would have it, Hassan Rouhani spoke just in time for this addition, so I will cover his speech now. He proved my point many times over in those 23 minutes. Here are some quotes, then I will tie them together:
(Re: the single goal of extremists) "The destruction of civilization, giving rise to Islamophobia, and creating a fertile ground for further intervention of foreign forces in our region."
"Today's anti-westernism is the offspring of yesterday's colonialism. Today's anti-Westernism is a reaction to yesterday's racism. Certain intelligence agencies have put blades in the hands of madmen who now spare no one."
"They (those who have created terrorism, ostensibly 'The West') need to apologize not only to this generation but to the past generations."
"Terrorism germinates in poverty, unemployment, discrimination, humiliation, and injustice, and it grows in the culture of violence. To uproot extremism we must spread justice and development, and disallow the distortion of divine teachings to justify brutality and cruelty. The pain is made greater when these terrorists spill blood in the name of religion and behead in the name of Islam. They seek to keep hidden this incontrovertible truth of history, that on the basis of the teachings of all divine prophets, from Abraham to Moses, from Jesus to Mohammad, peace be upon him, that taking the life of a single innocent human is akin to killing the whole of humanity. I am astonished that these murderous groups call themselves Islamic. What is more astonishing is that the Western media, in line with them, repeats this false claim, which provokes the hatred of all Muslims. Muslim people who every day recall their god as merciful and compassionate and have learned lessons of kindness and empathy from their prophets' teachings see this defamation as a part of an Islamophobic project."
"The experience of the creation of al-Qaeda, the Taliban and modern extremist groups have demonstrated that no one can use extremist groups to counter an opposing state and remain impervious to the consequences of rising extremism. The repetition of these mistakes, despite many costly experiences, is perplexing."
"In the past, colonialism denied them the right (the Arab world's right to thrive) and today the shadow of war and violence threatens their security."
"Had we had greater cooperation and coordination in the Middle East, thousands of innocent Palestinians in Gaza would not have fallen victim to the Zionist regime's aggressions. We in the Islamic Republic of Iran consider interaction and confidence-building among states of the region as fundamentally essential for conflict resolution. We support any measure to promote cooperation between Islamic nations to combat extremism, threats, and aggression, and in connection with this we are prepared to play our permanent, constructive, and positive role."
"We are of the view that the nuclear situation can only be resolved through negotiations, and those who may think of any other solution would be committing a grave mistake."
"The people of Iran are devoted to certain principles and values at the apex of which are independence, development, and national pride. If this obvious national fact is not understood by our negotiating partners and they commit grievous miscalculations in the process, a historic and exceptional opportunity will be lost."
"If our interlocutors are also equally motivated and flexible (regarding the P5+1 talks), and we can overcome the problem and reach a long-standing agreement within the time remaining, then an entirely different environment will emerge for cooperation at the regional and international levels, allowing for greater focus on some very important regional issues, such as combatting violence and extremism in the region."
"The notion that Iran seeks to control other Muslim countries in the region is a myth fanned in the recent years in the context of an Iranophobic project. Those who make these claims need imaginary enemies to sustain sanctions and sow division and conflict. Thus, in this way, pushing for the redeployment of natural resources away from development. We work towards putting an end to the delusional Iranophobia, setting the stage for building strategic partnerships with our neighbors."
The reason I chose to list all of the pertinent quotes together is because I want the reader to sense the tenor of Rouhani's speech. He consistently blames "The West". Everything is "The West's" fault. If the reader did not get it the first time, please read it again. Rouhani repeatedly refers to Western intervention in the Middle East, blaming it for the "extremism" we see today. He attempts to frame America for the rise of terrorist groups, finding fault with us for "poverty, unemployment, discrimination, humiliation, and injustice", as though we are responsible for all of those things. And, of course, he took the obligatory swipe at Israel, and her "aggression" against the "Palestinians". I must also point out the not-so-veiled references to Prime Minister Netanyahu. "...those who may think of any other solution would be committing a grave mistake" is a clear warning to Israel not to take military action regardless of the results of the P5+1 negotiations. "Those who make these claims (regarding the 'myth' of Iran seeking to control other Muslim nations) need imaginary enemies to sustain sanctions and sow division and conflict" is a clear reference to the Prime Minister's repeated warnings to John Kerry and Barack Obama not to let Iran sucker them into a "bad deal". Anyway, according to Iran, everything wrong with the Middle East has as its source "The West". See what I mean? Rouhani gives what can only be described as a rallying cry for the region, calling for "cooperation between Islamic nations to combat extremism, threats, and aggression" (another swipe at Israel).
Also of note is his repeated attempts to distance himself from "extremist" Islam, when in fact Islam is, on its face, extreme.
Does the reader see what is happening here? I described earlier the reasons why dictators would deliberately fuel "extremist" groups, and Hassan Rouhani proved my point in this speech. Now that these "extremists" have been unleashed, the Arabs can blame "The West" and demand "justice". I will address his offer of assistance with the Islamic State in exchange for a nuclear deal in my post on Obama's address, but it is clear from Iran's position that this has been a gambit long in the making, and it is about to come to a head. We are, indeed, in "check", and all indications are we are about to make the wrong move, straight into "checkmate".