Who is fighting the ‘War on Terror’?

An Analysis (14 September 2015) by Lawrence Davidson

Part I – Varying Goals
Back on 1 May 2015 I wrote an analysis on “Changing Alliances and the National Interest in the Middle East.” In this piece, which can be found on my website, tothepointanalyses.com, I made the argument that, at least since September 2001 and the declaration of the “war on terror,” the defeat of al-Qaeda and its affiliates has been a publicly stated national interest of the United States. This certainly has been the way it has been presented by almost continuous government pronouncements and media stories dedicated to this “war” over the years.

Given this goal, it logically follows that, with the evolution of al-Qaeda-affiliated organizations such as the so-called Islamic State (aka ISIS or Daesh) and Jabhat al Nusra (aka al-Qaeda in Syria), those who also seek the destruction of such groups are America’s de facto allies in the “war on terror” and warrant our assistance. Likewise, those who openly or clandestinely support these religious fanatics are opponents of a central U.S. national interest, and their relationship with the United States should at least be open to review.

Then came the shocker. Who has been and continues to actively oppose these al-Qaeda derivatives with soldiers on the ground? It turns out to be, among others, Iran, Hezbollah and Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian government. Who are clandestinely aiding the al-Qaeda enemies of Washington? It turns out to be Israel and Saudi Arabia. As I explain in my original analysis, this latter development has much to do with the fact that both the Israelis and the Saudis have decided that regime change in Syria is a high priority, even if it means ISIS and al-Nusra end up taking over Syria and, as Robert Parry puts it in a Consortium News article “Madness of Blockading Syrian Regime,” (10 September 2015), “chopping off the heads of Christians, Alawites, Shiites and other ‘heretics’ and/or Al Qaeda having a major Mideast capital from which to plot more attacks on the West.”

Has the U.S. government, or for that matter the U.S. media, brought this anomalous situation to the attention of the general public? No. Has Washington altered its policies in the region so as to ally with the actual anti-al-Qaeda forces? Not at all. Why not? These are questions we will address in Part III of this analysis. However, first we must look at a recent complicating factor.

Part II – Russia to the Rescue
This screwball situation has now taken yet another turn. The Russian government, which also sees al-Qaeda and its affiliates as a growing threat, has decided that the U.S. will not meaningfully act against the religious fanatics now threatening Syria – a country with which it, Russia, has strong ties. Having come to this conclusion, Moscow has decided to take the initiative and increase its military assistance to Damascus. According to a New York Times (NYT) article of 5 September 2015 this includes bringing into Syria as many as a thousand military advisors and support staff. Russia already has a naval base at the port city of Tartus. Now it is establishing a presence at the main airbase outside the city of Latakia.

All of this has raised alarms in Washington. Secretary of State John Kerry, who has met several times with Russian officials about the Syrian civil war, was reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer on 10 September 2015, to have called his Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, to tell him that the Russian moves will only increase the level of violence rather than help promote a negotiated settlement. If this report is accurate, Kerry must have come across as rather lame. After over four years of protracted internecine slaughter, over 4 million refugees, and numerous failed attempts at a negotiated a settlement, all one has as a result is the growth of rampaging religious fanatics who now control much of Syria and part of Iraq as well. It might just be the case that Moscow has come to the conclusion that a negotiated settlement is not possible, and what one really needs is a military victory that destroys organizations such as ISIS and al-Nusra.

Oddly, the U.S. government seems to be alarmed at this prospect. No doubt this is because Moscow sees no reason to displace its ally, Bashar al-Assad, while “regime change” is a cause celebre for U.S. and Israeli leaders. Washington has gone so far as to request Nato-affiliated countries to deny Russian transport planes permission to overfly their territory on their way to Syria. At least one such country, Bulgaria, has done just that. Fortunately, this does not really hamper the Russian effort. Iran, another enemy of al-Qaeda, has granted permission for the overflights, thus opening up a convenient and more or less direct route for the Russian supply line.


Part III – Conclusion
The goal of destroying al-Qaeda-like organizations is, supposedly, what the “war on terror” is all about. Nonetheless, the U.S. government’s policies in this regard are inconsistent. Does the U.S. want to destroy al-Qaeda and its affiliates or not? The answer is, mostly, yes. However, something often holds the government back – something that the Russians don’t have to contend with.

That something breaks down into three parts: (1) long-standing, conservative Washington-based special interest lobbies’ the most powerful of which is sponsored by Israel; (2) the pro-war neoconservative elements within American society that often cooperate with these lobbies; and (3) an American military bureaucracy parts of which are committed to maintaining a system of land, air and naval bases situated mostly in dictatorial Middle East states hostile to both Russia and Syria. It is this combination of forces that prevents meaningful changes even as evolving realities would seem to demand them.

In other words, while Israel and Saudi Arabia can act in ways they consider to be in their national interests, their agents and allies in Washington exercise enough influence to discourage U.S. policy makers from doing the same thing when it comes to the Middle East. That is why Washington is not pointing up the fact that two close “allies” are helping the same sort of people who attacked the World Trade Center, while simultaneously chastising the Russians for actually acting forcefully against those same terrorists.

The inability to adjust to changing realities is a sure sign of decline, particularly for a “great power.” And, unfortunately that seems to be the situation for the U.S. At least at this point, one can only conclude that the Obama administration’s ability to secure the Iran nuclear agreement is an isolated example of realism. Current U.S. policy toward Syria shows that Washington has not made the turnaround leading to a permanent clear-sighted ability to assess national interests in the Middle East.

Lawrence Davidson

2 thoughts on “Who is fighting the ‘War on Terror’?

  1. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called upon the US-Ministry of Defence to coordinate their efforts with the Russian military. Because both sides are actively invested in Syria it would be paramount for the US to reinstate the previously ceased operational cooperation with Russia, said Lavrov on Friday in Moscow.

    This was intended to avoid “unintentional incidents”. Russia’s military drills in the Mediterranean would be in accordance to international law. Larvrov explained furthermore, that Russia would keep delivering weapons to the troops of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad to support their struggle against the extremist organization of Islamic State (IS) http://russia-insider.com/en/politics/germany-may-be-leaving-us-anti-syria-coalition/ri9704

    To this day Obama has pushed zero peace initiatives in Syria. Diplomacy has been off the table. Regime change remains the official position of the Obama Administration, which his new resolution finally makes official. The war on ISIS was always a distraction to pursue regime change in Syria, and most media pundits took the bait.

    The world demands peace in Syria. Obama must accept Russia’s peace offering, and sit down with Iran, Hezbollah, and the Syrian government to hammer out a peace initiative, while demanding that U.S. allies in the region “stand down” and pursue a policy of strangling the flow of guns, money, and fighters that bolster ISIS.

    The U.S. must also open its borders to hundreds of thousands of refugees that are the direct victims of U.S. foreign policy. http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/09/15/obamas-response-to-the-refugee-crisis-regime-change-in-syria/

    [from http://all-born-equal-rights.newsvine.com/%5D

  2. Gareth Smith says:

    Embassy of Israel reported to the Australian Government’s terrorism hotline (NATIONAL SECURITY HOTLINE 1800 1234 0 hotline@nationalsecurity.gov.au)

    I wish to report Israel’s collusion with the terrorist group al-Nusra Front in Syria.

    These are clearly Australia’s enemies which is why the RAAF is preparing to bomb them.

    Australia is trying to kill them while Israel is giving them medical assistance so that they can return to their terrorist activities.

    Today, a friend who was in Israel recently told me that when she was in the Golan with her guide, former IDF colonel Miri Eisen, she was told that Israel had treated about 1,000 injured terrorists and had rebuilt the shattered jaw of the deputy commander of the al-Nusra Front and returned him to his base in Quneitra.

    This means that Israel is countering Australia’s anti-terrorism fight and therefore its embassy in Canberra must be considered complicit in Israel’s crimes and should be closed down.

    Blood for Oil

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