Wednesday, November 18, 2015

U.S. Position on Syria Becoming Untenable: How Long Can Obama Keep the Spotlight from Shining on Saudi Arabia?

How do you publish a lengthy feature on the growth of ISIS, as the Gray Lady does today with Ian Fisher's "In Rise of ISIS, No Single Missed Key but Many Strands of Blame," and barely -- maybe once or twice in passing -- mention Saudi Arabia?

It is ludicrous, but it goes directly to the heart of the U.S. position on the war in Syria. Obama is speaking out of both sides of his mouth. On the one side, he has repeatedly dismissed the seriousness of Islamic State, insisting the caliphate is an epiphenomenon of Assad's brutally; that once Assad is ushered off the stage, then the dove of peace will descend and all will set about to the righteous path. On the other side, Obama has warned of toppling the Syrian government militarily, for chaos a la Libya will reign in the absence of Baathist rule.

So what you have is a policy of slow-motion regime change where the U.S. is facilitating as best it can, according to the wishes of its partners in the GCC, a victory of jihadist forces over the Syrian government, while simultaneously hoping that the situation doesn't get too out of control.

But the situation is clearly out of control and it has been for years. It is only when a European capital city comes under assault that most people in the West suddenly appear to have arisen from slumber and started to demand answers. Of course prior to Paris, there was Beirut, Sharm el Sheikh, Ankara, etc., not to mention the huge influx of refugees to Europe from the greater Middle East.

That's why on Monday Obama was riddled with skeptical questions from reporters at the G20 conference in Turkey. In that appearance before the press (Michael Shear and Peter Baker,
"Obama Says Strategy to Fight ISIS Will Succeed") Obama contradicted his CIA chief John Brennan by saying that the Paris terror attack was not all that sophisticated but more a product of ideology, before reasserting the canard that ISIS flourished in the vacuum created by the war in Syria:
At his news conference here, Mr. Obama sounded weary as he repeatedly rejected criticism of his yearlong strategy. Wrapping up 48 hours of diplomacy in this Turkish resort community on the Mediterranean Sea, the president seemed frustrated by second-guessing and twice chided reporters for asking the same question in slightly different ways. 
He denied underestimating the Islamic State, saying that the group’s attacks have not been particularly sophisticated. “If you have a handful of people who don’t mind dying, they can kill a lot of people,” he said. “That’s one of the challenges of terrorism. It’s not their sophistication or the particular weaponry that they possess. But it is the ideology they carry with them and their willingness to die.” [But whose ideology is it? It is Saudi Wahhabism.]
In the end, he said, the strategy will choke off the Islamic State’s financing, cut off its supply lines and reinforcements and make it harder to hold territory. Along with a diplomatic solution to the Syrian civil war that provided a vacuum for the Islamic State to fill, “that ultimately is going to be what’s going to make a difference,” Mr. Obama said, adding, “and it’s going to take some time.” 
But who created that vacuum of war? The U.S. and its allies did.

If you want a "man on a galloping horse" perspective on the war in Syria, straight with no bullshit, consult Abel Bari Atwan's interview yesterday on Democracy Now!:
You know, Saudi Arabia is the origin of radicalism, Islamic radicalism, in the Middle East and the whole world and the whole Islamic world. Why? Because al-Qaeda ideology—sorry, Islamic State ideology is the same Wahhabi ideology which adopted by the Saudi kingdom. This is—you know, they go back to the time of Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab in 1704, you know, so they are doing—doing exactly the same. They are doing in Syria and Iraq this brutality, this savagery, the Wahhabism of the Saudi regime in 1705 and ’06, when they actually invaded Karbala and Najaf. They committed the same massacres.
So, Saudi Arabia, actually, now, they are—they are, actually, with Qatar and with Turkey. They have some sort of alliance. And they started the problem in Syria. They poured billions in Syria, hoping to topple the Assad regime for personal revenge, not for political means, not for actually, you know, a strategic move from their side. They just want to take revenge, personal revenge, because Assad insulted them in a way or another, and also because they thought that they can topple him in a few weeks, few months maximum. So they poured billions of weapons. And also, they encouraged a hundred—sorry, tens of thousands of volunteers to go through Turkey to Syria to fight against the Assad regime.
I would add that the Saudis and Turks have strategic objectives. They want to make sure after the deal with the West on its nuclear program that the Iranians do not have stable allies in Iraq and Syria. 

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