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ISIS thanks Turkey and Israel
Articles on Syria before 2014

  • (september 2014) ISIS thanks Turkey and Israel. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has established its own territory in what used to be called Mesopotamia. The immediate reasons of its success are two weak governments: Assad's government in Syria collapsed due to the rebellion of large parts of the country (mainly the Sunni-populated areas, that resent the domination of Assad's Alawite sect) and at the same time the withdrawl of US forces from Iraq painfully demonstrated how weak the Iraqi army was, especially when the credibility of its prime minister (Maliki) was so low (he had alienated the Sunni politicians, who represent a sizeable minority of Iraq's population). In both countries there was widespread Sunni anger that provided ISIS with the initial momentum. Then the most fanatical elements hijacked ISIS to become a Taliban-like militia intent on establishing not just a caliphate but a ruthless unpopular dictatorship. Tens of thousands of people are fleeing ISIS' madness. The main victims are people who worship a different god, or who worship the same god but in different ways. Notably, the areas where ISIS has carved its own state border on areas inhabited by the people without a state: no, not the Palestinians, but the Kurds.
    That is where the true reason of ISIS' success comes out. The people who would fight ISIS are mostly the Kurds. But Turkey has a problem with its own Kurdish minority: they have fought a long and bloody independence war and lost it. The last thing that Turkey wants is a Kurdish state created anywhere near its borders. Unfortunately when the British partitioned the Ottoman Empire at the end of World War I, they split the Kurds into three regions: one in Turkey, one in Syria and one in Iraq. History has a way to get back at you even a century later. The Kurds have remained Kurds, even if the Western-imposed international system recognize them as Turks, Syrians or Iraqis. To make matters worse, the Kurds in Iraq are the closest allies of the USA in the region, and the ones who are armed well enough to fight ISIS. The reason why they have been forced to remain part of Iraq is Turkey: Turkey, especially under the presidency of the fanatical nationalist (but highly popular) Tayyip Erdogan, would never recognize a Kurdish state for fear that its own Kurds demand to confederate with it. The Kurds of Syria constitute the majority of the refugees who crossed into Turkey, and among them are many strong young men who would probably be willing to go back into Syria and fight ISIS. Ironically, Turkey shut down the border in that direction: refugees were admitted into Turkey, but forbidden to return to Syria and fight. The reason is the same: Turkey can live with ISIS winning the war, but it could not live with Kurds winning the war. In fact, eyewitnesses can testify that international Islamist militants crossed from Turkey into Syria to join ISIS without Turkey doing much to stop them. Turkey basically welcomed ISIS as a Sunni force to fight Assad (not a friend of Turkey) without involving the Syrian Kurds. And now Turkey is basically protecting ISIS as it swallows the last Kurdish towns in Syria. This used to be called "ethnic cleansing", except that Erdogan is doing it in a passive mode. His ancestors exterminated Armenians, he simply lets events get rid of Kurds. Meanwhile, Turkish warplanes bomb Kurdish separatists on Turkish soil (air strikes were reported on Daglica against positions held by the PKK, Kurdistan Workers' Party) but not a single Turkish bomb has fallen on ISIS positions.
    At the same time, Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided to butcher a few thousand Palestinians in Gaza. Netanyahu is one of those despicable demagogues who thrives in chaos and excels at scare tactics. He saw an opportunity to depict the population of Gaza as being hostage to an ISIS-like fanatical group and struck his enemy Hamas (never mind that Hamas was democratically elected by the vast majority of Gaza's Palestinians, and never mind that Hamas is one of the most westernized movements in the region). All of this for purely political reasons (to win an election). Indirectly, however, Netanyahu proved to the Islamists of the world that a) there is indeed a Jewish conspiracy to exterminate Muslims, and b) the Palestinians made a mistake when they renounced terrorism (they were the masters of suicide bombings in the old days before the West convinced them to turn to "negotiations", a word that really means "accept whatever Israel does and we'll let you speak at the United Nations every now and then").
    When Netanyahu went to the United Nations to claim that Hamas and ISIS are one and the same, and to claim that he did not commit genocide (as the Palestinian president Abbas correctly accused him), and to claim that the real enemy is Iran (a Shiite state that ISIS would gladly annihilate), everybody's eyes started rolling. The silliest conspiracy theories never went anywhere near this. The fact is that Netanyahu's favorite scare tactic in Israel has been for a while to depict Iran's nuclear program as the prelude to a new Holocaust aimed at exterminating the Jews the same way that Hitler's "final solution" wanted to. He went to the United Nations to find a way to connect ISIS (a Sunni fanatical group) with Iran (a Shiite theocratic state), a claim as irrational as when Bush tried to connect Saddam Hussein with Al Qaeda (an Islamist organization that hated secular tyrants like Saddam Hussein), as irrational as trying to connect Obama's liberal policies with Fox News' ultra-conservative pundits.
    However, Netanyahu was on to something. He is truly paranoid about Iran because he has reasons to be. Since 2001 it has been obvious to any external objective observer that the USA and Iran have enemies in common: Iran was the only country to fight the Taliban before 2001 and Iran was the country that fought a long and bloody war against Saddam Hussein in the 1980s. When the USA attacked those two, the USA was simply following in the footsteps of Iran. No wonder therefore that Iran became the main beneficiary of George W Bush's wars. Bush removed Iran's most dangerous neighbor (Saddam Hussein) and Iran's most serious long-term threat (the Taliban, another Sunni fanatical movement that views Shiites as mortal enemies). No wonder that eventually Iran, under a new president, decided to sit down with the USA and try to negotiate some kind of agreement about its nuclear program. Netanyahu might be honestly worried about Iran's nuclear program (and of course he avoids mentioning that Iran must be worried about Israel's much more advanced nuclear program) but he is probably also worried about the possibility that the USA and Iran become buddies again. Before the revolution that ousted the shah and installed the current Shiite theocracy, Iran was the USA's most reliable ally in the region. When Iran fell, Israel took its place. Israel has made a fortune out of that Shiite revolution in Iran.
    The bottom line is that Netanyahu is willing to do anything to disrupt any reapproachment between the USA and Iran. The beneficiary? ISIS. The one country that could obviously help the USA with boots on the grounds in both Iraq and Syria is Iran. The one country that could negotiate a solution to the Syrian civil war is Iran (Iran and Russia are the only sponsors of Syria's regime). Netanyahu is much happier having ISIS behead a million innocents than having Iran defeat ISIS and expand its own influence on the region.
    As the USA starts bombing ISIS, it is faced with the fact that the causes of ISIS success will not go away any time soon as long as the USA relies on allies such as Turkey and Israel that have their own agenda: one is paranoid about the Kurds and the other one is paranoid about the Iranians.
    The USA can pretend that it is simply sticking to the moral high ground and bombing to protect innocent civilians; but which moral high ground? The allies of the USA in this bombing campaign are medieval-style monarchies such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar and emirates. They include a country (Saudi Arabia) where women don't even have the right to drive, where racism against non-Muslims is inculcated since elementary school, where no Christian church, Hindu temple, Buddhist temple, etc can be established (the penalty is death), where non-Muslims are not allowed into two holy cities (compare with the capitals of Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism and Judaism, that are open to everybody). Meanwhile, the USA is tolerating that the Kurdish nation is occupied by Iraq and Turkey, the Kurds being precisely the example of secular, moderate, democratic Islam that we would like to see prevail in the world, the exact opposite of Al Qaeda and ISIS.
    The issue is not whether ISIS is evil or not. The issue is whether the allies of the USA in this campaign against evil are more or less evil than that evil.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2014 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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    Articles on Syria before 2014

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TM, ®, Copyright © 2015 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.