The Obama administration’s policy in the Middle East appears to be designed to remove secular tyrants and replace them with more religiously oriented regimes. Thus, Gaddafi (“We came, we saw, he died.” Ha ha ha.) and Mubarak were targeted. Bashar al Assad is the current target. This policy has been marked by monumental incompetence, mendacity, and confusion. Nothing about it should be accepted without a healthy dose of skepticism, including what follows.
The Telegraph of the U.K. has a video of U.S. commandos fleeing a town under a barrage of insults (“Crusaders! Infidels! Dogs! Get out!”) from the Free Syrian Army, our supposed allies. CENTCOM commander General Lloyd Austin testified that a 500-million-dollar program to train opposition soldier had resulted in “four or five” being trained. CIA-backed rebels have had armed confrontations with Pentagon-backed forces. Two of Senator John McCain’s Libyan “heroes,” Abdelhakim Belhadj and the late Abu Mosa, turned out to be ISIS leaders. Turkish and Saudi allies clearly do not have the same objectives as the U.S. Former U.S. Department of State senior adviser David Phillips said, “Turkey’s role has not been ambiguous – it has overtly supported the ISIL.”
This confused U.S. policy has led to speculation that the U.S. created and still supplies ISIS. In an interview with a reporter from the Koelner Stadt-Anzeigernewspaper, Abu Al Ezz, a militant jihadist commander with Jabhat Al-Nusra, claims, “The U.S. is on our side.” Abu Al Ezz claims that his tanks came from Libya and that they have been supplied with American-made TOW rockets. He also claimed that “we had officers from Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Israel and America here[.] … Experts in the use of satellites, rockets, reconnaissance and thermal security cameras.” Al Ezz claimed that Jabhat Al-Nusra broke with ISIS because “[m]ost of the IS leaders are working with intelligence services, and it’s now clear for us. We, the Jabhat Al-Nusra, have our own way.” Jabhat al-Nusra has been designated a terrorist group by the U.S. and U.N.
Al Ezz’s allegations are supported by documents obtained by Judicial Watch that reveal early U.S. support for ISIS. The same article reported that U.K.-based Conflict Armament Research’s report traced the origins of Croatian anti-tank rockets recovered from ISIS to a Saudi/CIA joint program via serial numbers. In 2012, Kenneth R. Timmerman reported that the Taliban fired on a CH-47 helicopter with a Stinger missile. He reported, “The Stinger [serial number] tracked back to a lot that had been signed out by the CIA recently, not during the anti-Soviet jihad.” Jihadists have also obtained a “significant” number of tanks and Humvees from their operations in Iraq. These weapons have undoubtedly led to the deaths of American servicemen. Attacks on U.S. forces could have been led by released Guantanamo detainees. The Washington Postreports that at least 12 former detainees have launched attacks against the U.S.
The anti-Assad coalition may also have used poison gas in order to justify a U.S. attack on the Assad regime. The network nsnbc claims that evidence of approval leads directly to the White House. Dr. Christof Lehmann has done an extensive study on the gas attack. Investigative reporter Seymour Hersh claims that Hillary Clinton approved sending the gas to Syria. Although this attack was to be attributed to the Assad regime, the evidence would not justify a U.S. attack. German intelligence claimed that it had intercepted phone calls between Syrian officers and the Syrian High Command that convinced them that none of the Syrian forces has used a chemical weapon.
Al Ezz also commented ten days prior to the attack on the aid convoy bound for Aleppo that Jabhat Al-Nusra would not allow the aid to go through. The aid convoy was attacked on September 15, resulting in 20 civilian fatalities. U.S. Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified that he had no doubt that it was a Russian attack and called it an “unacceptable atrocity.” He based this on the fact that two Russian aircraft were in the area of the strike when it happened, but he admitted he “had no facts.”
Secretary of state John Kerry has proposed grounding Syrian and Russian aircraft over Syria. However, according to General Dunford, “Right now … for us to control all of the airspace in Syria would require us to go to war against Syria and Russia.” Defense secretary Ash Carter stated that U.S. jets conduct their strikes “with exceptional precision … that no other country can match.” He said this after U.S. airplanes struck a Syrian base at Dayr Az Zawr. CENTCOM declared that they halted this airstrike when they were informed by Russian officials that the target hit by U.S. airplanes may have been a Syrian Arab Army base. There is no evidence of coordination, but ISIS assaulted and overran the Syrian Army base right after the U.S. airstrike.
The Dayr Az Zawr attack may have been the result of relying on intelligence provided by anti-Assad forces. Apparently, U.S. intelligence does not have a good reputation. Volker Perthes, director of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs in Berlin, has stated, “Everyone is extremely skeptical about U.S. intelligence revelations.” A congressional task force has confirmed allegations that senior U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) leaders manipulated intelligence assessments in 2014 and 2015 to make it appear that President Barack Obama is winning the war against the Islamic State.” And two senior intelligence analysts at CENTCOM say the military forced them out of their jobs because of their skeptical reporting on U.S.-backed rebel groups in Syria.
A spokesman for the Syrian military called the Dayr Az Zawr strike a “serious and blatant attack on Syria and its military” and “firm proof of the U.S. support of Daesh.” (Daesh is the Arabic acronym for ISIS.) A Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, announced, “The White House is defending Islamic State. Now there can be no doubts about that.” Our U.N. ambassador, Samantha Power, said Zakharova should be embarrassed by that claim.
It is not only Russians and Syrians who question U.S. policy. U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Tom McInerney has claimed, “We are not trying to destroy ISIS.” Daniel McAdams, executive director of the Ron Paul Institute, asserted, “The CIA agenda is definitely not anti-ISIS [Daesh], it’s primarily anti-Assad.” Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev claimed, “The strengthening of the Islamic State became possible partially due to irresponsible policies of the United States.”
Naturally, U.S. policy has led to increased tension. U.S. ambassador to the U.N.Samantha Power stated, “It’s apocalyptic what is being done in eastern Aleppo.” She may be closer to the truth than she realizes. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told the press, “I think when American lives are at stake, when we’re talking about defending our own interests, we’re not looking for the approval of the Syrian regime.” Why is the State Department so unconcerned about Syrian airspace yet scrupulous about Libyan airspace when an ambassador is under attack?
John Dietrich is a freelance writer and the author of The Morgenthau Plan: Soviet Influence on American Postwar Policy, Algora Publishing, 2013.