By Ulson Gunnar
The problem with America’s “anti-ISIS coalition” is not a matter of poor planning or a lack of resources. It is not a matter of lacking leadership or military might. The problem with America’s “anti-ISIS coalition” is that it never existed in the first place. There is no US-led war on ISIS, and what’s worse, it appears that the US, through all of its allies, from across the Persian Gulf to Eastern Europe and even within Washington itself, are involved in feeding ISIS, not fighting it.
Going from Syria itself, outward according to geographical proximity, we can trace ISIS’ support all the way back to Washington itself. And as we do, efforts like the “talks” in Vienna, and all the non-solutions proposed by the US and its allies, appear ever more absurd while the US itself is revealed not as a stabilizing force in a chaotic world, but rather the very source of that chaos.
Within Syria itself, it is no secret that the US CIA is arming, training, funding and equipping militant groups, groups the US now claims Russia is bombing instead of “ISIS.” However, upon reading carefully any report out of newspapers in the US or its allies it becomes clear that these “rebels” always seem to be within arms reach of listed terrorist organizations, including Jabhat al Nusra.
Al Nusra is literally Al Qaeda in Syria. Not only that, it is the terrorist organization from which ISIS allegedly split from. And while the US has tried to add in a layer of extra plausible deniability to its story by claiming Nusra and ISIS are at odds with one another, the fact is Nusra and ISIS still fight together on the same battlefield toward the same objectives.
And while we’ll get to who is propping up these two terrorist groups beyond Syria’s borders, it should be noted that the US and European media itself has reported a steady flow of weapons and fighters out from its own backed “rebel” groups and into the ranks of Nusra and ISIS.
Articles like Reuters’ “U.S.-trained Syrian rebels gave equipment to Nusra: U.S. military” give at least one explanation as to where ISIS is getting all of its brand new Toyota trucks from:
Syrian rebels trained by the United States gave some of their equipment to the al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front in exchange for safe passage, a U.S. military spokesman said on Friday, the latest blow to a troubled U.S. effort to train local partners to fight Islamic State militants.
The rebels surrendered six pick-up trucks and some ammunition, or about one-quarter of their issued equipment, to a suspected Nusra intermediary on Sept. 21-22 in exchange for safe passage, said Colonel Patrick Ryder, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command, in a statement.
Before this, defections of up to 3,000 so-called “Free Syrian Army” (FSA) “rebels” had been reported, even by the London Guardian which claimed in its article “Free Syrian Army rebels defect to Islamist group Jabhat al-Nusra” that:
Abu Ahmed and others say the FSA has lost fighters to al-Nusra in Aleppo, Hama, Idlib and Deir al-Zor and the Damascus region. Ala’a al-Basha, commander of the Sayyida Aisha brigade, warned the FSA chief of staff, General Salim Idriss, about the issue last month. Basha said 3,000 FSA men have joined al-Nusra in the last few months, mainly because of a lack of weapons and ammunition. FSA fighters in the Banias area were threatening to leave because they did not have the firepower to stop the massacre in Bayda, he said. Advertisement
The FSA’s Ahrar al-Shimal brigade joined al-Nusra en masse while the Sufiyan al-Thawri brigade in Idlib lost 65 of its fighters to al-Nusra a few months ago for lack of weapons. According to one estimate the FSA has lost a quarter of all its fighters.
Al-Nusra has members serving undercover with FSA units so they can spot potential recruits, according to Abu Hassan of the FSA’s al-Tawhid Lions brigade.
Taken together, it is clear to anyone that even at face value the US strategy of arming “moderate rebels” is a complete failure and that to continue proposing such a failed strategy is basically an admission that (in fact) the US seeks to put weapons and trained fighters directly into the ranks of Al Nusra and other hardcore terrorist groups.Of course, in reality, that was the plan all along. So even before our journey leaves Syria, we see how the US is feeding, not fighting terrorism, completely and intentionally.
And of course, before many of the fighters even reach the battlefield in Syria, they have spent time training, arming up and staging in Turkey and Jordan. There has been a lot of talk in Washington, London and Brussels about establishing safe havens in Syria itself for this army of rebel-terrorists, but in reality, Turkey and Jordan have served this purpose since the war began in 2011. All the US and its allies want to do now is extend these safe havens deeper into Syrian territory.
But before that, a steady stream of supplies, weapons and fighters have been pouring over the border, provided by the Persian Gulf monarchies (Saudi Arabia and Qatar in particular) and with the explicit complicity of the Turkish government.
German broadcaster Deutsche Welle videotaped hundreds of trucks pouring over the Turkish border, bound for ISIS in Syria as part of its story, “ISIS and Turkey’s porous borders” (video here). It was not a scene one would describe as “smuggling” behind the back of Turkish authorities, but rather a scene reminiscent of the Iraq War where fleets of trucks openly supported the full-scale invasion of Iraq by America’s military.
Turkey’s borders aren’t merely porous, they are wide open, with the Turkish government itself clearly involved in filling up the fleets of supply trucks bound for ISIS on a daily basis.
In recent days, as Russia has begun decimating fleets of these trucks, and in particular, oil tankers that, instead of bringing supplies into Syria, are stealing oil for export beyond Syria’s borders, there has been talk about just who this oil is being sold to. Turkey’s name comes up yet again.
Business Insider in its article “Here’s How ISIS Keeps Selling So Much Oil Even While Being Bombed And Banned By The West” reveals:
Most of the oil is bought by local traders and covers the domestic needs of rebel-held areas in northern Syria. But some low-quality crude has been smuggled to Turkey where prices of over $350 a barrel, three times the local rate, have nurtured a lucrative cross-border trade.
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And if some readers don’t find the argument that ISIS sustains itself from within Turkish territory entirely convincing, perhaps a direct admission from the US State Department itself might help. Its Voice of America media network recently reported in an article titled “US, Turkey Poised for Joint Anti-ISIS Operation, Despite Differences” that:
Some have even suspected the Turkish government of cooperating with IS, making allegations that range from weapons transfers to logistical support to financial assistance and the provision of medical services. The Cumhuriyet daily this week published stories that alleged Turkish Intelligence was working hand-in-hand with IS. A former IS spy chief told the paper that during the siege of the Syrian city of Kobani last year, Turkish Intelligence served McDonald’s hamburgers to IS fighters brought in from Turkey.
Some analysts say the pending border operation could help silence some of the criticism.
That the US is still working openly with Turkey despite increasing evidence that Turkey itself is sustaining ISIS in Syria, indicates that the US itself is also interested in perpetuating the terrorist group’s activities for as long as possible/plausible.
Those nations in Eastern Europe who have either joined NATO or now aspire to, also appear to be directly involved. The large torrent of weapons needed to sustain ISIS’ terrorism within Syria cannot, as a matter of managing public perception, appear to be coming entirely from US arsenals themselves (though hundreds of TOW missile systems and M16s do regularly show up in the hands of Nusra, ISIS and other terrorists organizations). Instead, Soviet bloc weapons are needed and to get them, the US has tapped NATO members like Croatia and aspiring NATO member Ukraine to help arm its ISIS legions.
In 2013 it was revealed by the New York Times in their article Arms Airlift to Syria Rebels Expands, With Aid From C.I.A. that:
Although rebel commanders and the data indicate that Qatar and Saudi Arabia had been shipping military materials via Turkey to the opposition since early and late 2012, respectively, a major hurdle was removed late last fall after the Turkish government agreed to allow the pace of air shipments to accelerate, officials said.
Simultaneously, arms and equipment were being purchased by Saudi Arabia in Croatia and flown to Jordan on Jordanian cargo planes for rebels working in southern Syria and for retransfer to Turkey for rebels groups operating from there, several officials said.
One wonders how many of these weapons “coincidentally” ended up in Nusra or ISIS’ hands.
More recently, the NATO-installed junta in Ukraine has been implicated not in supplying weapons to ISIS by proxy, but supplying them to ISIS much more directly after a high-profile bust was made in Kuwait implicating Kiev.
International Business Times reported in its article “Ukraine Weapons To ISIS? Kiev Denies Charge After Islamic State Terrorists Caught In Kuwait” that:
The Ukrainian military has denied knowledge of how its weapons made it into the hands of Islamic State group terrorists. Lebanese citizen Osama Khayat, who was arrested this week in Kuwait with other suspects, said he purchased arms in Ukraine that were meant to be delivered to the militant group in Syria via smuggling routes in Turkey.
Perhaps readers notice a pattern. Washington is using its vast global network and allies to arm and fund terrorists in Syria, supported by massive logistical networks flowing through Turkey and to a lesser extent, Jordan. Everyone from America’s allies in Kiev and Zagreb, to Riyad and Doha, to Ankara and Amman are involved which goes far in explaining just how ISIS got so powerful, and why it still remains so powerful despite its widening war on what appears to be the entire world.
The United States
And all of this brings us back to Washington itself. Surely Washington notices that each and every single one of its allies is involved in feeding, not fighting ISIS. When each and every one of its allies from Kiev to Ankara are involved in arming and supplying ISIS, Washington not only knows, it is likely orchestrating it all to begin with.
And proving this is not a matter of deduction or mere implications. Proving this requires simply for one to read a 2012 Department of Intelligence Agency (DIA) report (.pdf) which openly admitted:
If the situation unravels there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in eastern Syria (Hasaka and Der Zor), and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion (Iraq and Iran).
If, at this point, one is unclear on just who these “supporting powers to the opposition” are, the DIA report itself reveals it is the West, NATO (including Turkey) and its allies in the Persian Gulf.
This Salafist (Islamic) principality (state), or ISIS for short, was not an indirect consequence of US foreign policy, it was (and still very much is) a concerted conspiracy involving multiple states spanning North America, Europe, and the Middle East. It could not exist otherwise.
While Russia attempts to reach westward to piece together an inclusive coalition to finally put an end to ISIS, it is clear that it does so in vain. Washington, Brussels and their regional allies in the Middle East have no intention of putting an end to ISIS. Even today, this very moment, the US and its allies are doing everything within their power to ensure the survival of their terrorist armies inside of Syria for as long as possible before any ceasefire is agreed to. And even if a peace settlement of some sort is struck, all it will do is buy Syria time. No matter how much damage Russia and its own, genuine coalition consisting of Iran, Iraq and Lebanon deal ISIS within Syria, the networks that fed it from Turkey, Jordan, the Persian Gulf, Eastern Europe and Washington itself remain intact.
One hopes that these networks can be diminished through the principles of multipolarism within the time being bought for Syria through the blood, sacrifice and efforts of Syrian soldiers and Russian airmen.
Ulson Gunnar, a New York-based geopolitical analyst and writer especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.