The other day the US State Department published its annual report about global terrorism for 2015; and again Iran came on top among states supporting terrorism. However, within a few hours Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandes, the deputy commander of the Popular Mobilization Forces – geographically Iraqi, but politically Iranian – spoke of his preparations for “liberating” the town of Fallujah.
As he was speaking, banners, pictures and symbols in the background gave away his and his organization’s true pro-Iran identity and allegiance. Incidentally, Al-Muhandes is still regarded by Washington as a terrorist.
Furthermore, General Qassem Suleimani, the Commander of al-Quds Brigade of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), – also labelled and sought by Washington as a terrorist – is regularly and freely moving about in Iraq, Syria and perhaps Lebanon too, conducting the sectarian cleansing campaign, as well as visiting Russia from time to time!
This is what is taking place with regards to Iran’s aiding, abetting and sponsoring terrorism but is still not proving an obstacle to it becoming Washington’s regional de facto ally in the war against a dubious organization called ISIS.
On the other hand, heading the list of Washington’s new operatives in the war against ISIS in Syria are armed Kurdish organizations long regarded as “terrorist” by Turkey, America’s old ally, and other armed Kurdish gangs many Syrians accuse of being "agents" of Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
I believe this administration knows exactly what it is doing, and if a proof is ever needed, look no further than how it is hiding the full facts of its Iran deal from the American publicEyad Abu Shakra
The above and what we have been reading and hearing about US official and media positions, point to the notion that by using the war against ISIS as a pretext, Washington is going ahead with a strategic gamble on the Kurds despite the possible negative regional repercussions on the Middle East’s entities; as well as intentionally turning a blind eye to Iranian expansionist policies reaching as far as Yemen.
I think Washington’s Middle Eastern policies have been frequently misread during the last five years. We were told that it “was no more interested in the Middle East” but is rather seeking to concentrate its efforts on “more important and sensitive areas” in the world.
Then we heard there was some sort of “confusion and hesitation” in the White House whose master has little belief in the benefits of foreign interventions, especially after the Iraq War experience. We also read a lot that Barack Obama’s top priority was the economy and internal affairs, NOT foreign relations.
Later on, some suggested that Washington “realized it was wrong to give its rash blessings to the so-called Arab Spring …” when Islamists became the early winners in Egypt and Tunisia, and extreme terrorist organizations appeared on the scene in Libya, Syria and Yemen, thus exacerbating armed conflicts that made foreign intervention necessary.
There may have been some truth in all the above, however, the overall picture is much more sinister and dangerous; and it has been what was uncovered by President Obama’s recent series of interviews, and translated step by step on the ground since the JCPOA nuclear deal with Iran.
The fact of the matter is that Washington has not abandoned the Middle East, is neither confused nor hesitant, has not discarded foreign relations, and is not “correcting” its previous misreading and actions, specifically those related to the invasion of Iran that led to handing it on a platter to Iran.
I believe this administration knows exactly what it is doing, and if a proof is ever needed, look no further than how it is hiding the full facts of its Iran deal from the American public. Indeed, it is engaged in a direct political campaign and a proxy military campaign against its old Middle Eastern allies, namely, the Arabs and the Turks.
It is also laying the foundations for a new map for the region which will replace the post-First World War map. Almost 100 years ago, the Middle East witnessed two major developments that led to the current shaky map: Britain and France inherited the vanquished Ottoman Empire becoming the two mandatory powers, and a ‘Jewish homeland’ was promised and later established. What we are about to witness, with Washington’s blessings and actions, is a new Iranian mandate and a new ‘Kurdish homeland’ extending from As-Suleimaniyah to the eastern Mediterranean.
In the meantime, American media, more specifically its liberal wing, is now at the forefront of a crusade against ‘Islamic extremism’; meaning Sunni extremism exclusively. American liberal media seems to forget – or prefers to forget – that Washington exploited armed extremist Islamist, such as the Afghan ‘Mujaheddins’, for decades; using them in its global confrontations with Soviet Communism.
I am sure the archives of the New York Times – currently a bit too selective in blaming ‘the others’ – contain loads of documents proving the close co-operation between American and Pakistani intelligence agencies during the Afghan War against Moscow’s Red Army; specifically, the strong links between the CIA and General Hamid Gul, the then Director-General of the Inter-services Intelligence (ISI) in Pakistan.
I also believe the NYT know quite enough not only about those who financed the extremist Islamists – who later metamorphosed into al-Qaeda – but more importantly, those who trained and armed them.
As for ISIS, I reckon the NYT, the Washington Post and others have enough information about the long standing and sinister relations between the Syrian and Iranian intelligence agencies with self-claimed ‘Islamist’ terror groups, beginning with al-Qaeda and finishing with ISIS.
On the media front, too, a prominent Washington Post analyst and senior editor, recently appeared on an Arab TV news channel to say that given the “current combat map in Syria”, the ‘Syrian Democratic Forces’ (SDF) militia is in Washington’s calculations the only reliable armed group capable of fighting ISIS. The senior editor was realistic enough to point at “the current map” but found no need to explain why we reached such a situation.
He did not feel the need to say why for five years Washington behaved the way it did; why it refused time and time again to give the ‘Free Syrian Army’ the required weapons capable of confronting the regime as well as the mushrooming extremist terror groups which appeared with the passing of time with valuable help from several intelligence agencies.
In fact, today, thanks to international collusion with the al-Assad regime, well-orchestrated conspiracy against the Syrian popular uprising, and its tacit support of the Russo-Iranian armed intervention in Syria, Washington is working overtime to bluff the whole world about linking a ‘future Syria’ with the SDF which is a secessionist Kurdish militia that has nothing to with ‘democracy’ and does not believe in ‘one’ Syria.
In short, what we are witnessing is a real war against Sunni Arabs that will end with a new ‘Middle East’ which will sow the wind only to reap the whirlwind.
This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on Jun. 08, 2016.
Eyad Abu Shakra (also written as Ayad Abou-Chakra) began his media career in 1973 with Annahar newspaper in Lebanon. He joined Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper in the UK in 1979, occupying several positions including: Senior Editor, Managing Editor, and Head of Research Unit, as well as being a regular columnist. He has several published works, including books, chapters in edited books, and specialized articles, in addition to frequent regular TV and radio appearances. Eyad tweets @eyad1949