15 December 2015

ISIS and the Strategy of Tension

Because it is almost undisputed that Qatar and Turkey are supporting ISIS and in Turkey's case purchasing black market oil from them, it is believed by many that ISIS is a fiction, a Western intelligence asset. It's all simply theatre. The struggle is not real.

This is frustrating because this is once again a case of the conspiracists being on to something and yet taking it too far, to the point of discrediting the whole notion.

ISIS is very real and the people involved in it are quite sincere. They are radicalised Sunni Muslims that believe in casting down Western influence in their lands and establishing a Caliphate ruled by Sharia law.

That said, just like the mujahideen of Afghanistan, the KLA in Kosovo and the Salafis in Chechnya, they serve a purpose and can be restrained and thus utilized by greater powers.

This is not to say that the deadly serpent sometimes gets away from its master and bites it. A case can be made for that as well. Are these 'bites' (i.e. terrorist attacks) orchestrated? At this point I don't know if I would even go that far. I think 'capitalized upon' would be a better way to understand it. 9/11 and now the Friday the 13th Paris attacks have been blessings in disguise for the geopolitical chess players. It has been proven they plan ahead for these types of events and make sure they ride the wave that is generated. In some cases I think a strong case can be made for foreknowledge as well as the obstruction of law enforcement's intervention and investigation.

But apart from the fear and security state response that is generated by attacks on Western targets, can a group like ISIS even serve the goals and interests of the powers that be in the Middle Eastern theatre?

Undoubtedly this is the case. This is multifaceted and must be considered from various angles. These examples by no means cover the full scope. They are but a sample and provide a window into how the geopolitical calculus is worked out.

For the Turks, despite a peaceful interlude with the Assad regime a few years ago, they have long been enemies. This goes back to the formation of these states in the wake of World War I. There are disputes over the Euphrates and Turkish dams. There are disputes over Hatay, the Arabic region that Turkey seized in the 1920's.

Turkey has long been part of NATO and until the AKP came into power they were a close ally with Syria's mortal enemy, the Zionist state of Israel. For a long time Syria harboured the PKK, the Kurdish guerillas battling for autonomy in Turkey's Southeast. The Assad family being Alawites are natural allies to Iran and thus their position also plays into the greater Middle Eastern struggle betwixt the Saudi's and Revolutionary Iran.  

Riyadh, Washington, Tel-Aviv and most certainly Ankara want Assad gone and Syria to be re-established on a different basis. ISIS is battling Assad and the Kurds and thus it is in their interest to see ISIS enjoy limited success.

The United States shares many of these concerns. They have been happy to use the Kurds to contain ISIS. They don't want them in the Kurdish areas and as long as they were solely in Syria the US didn't really have any problem with them at all.

While it looks very bad for the US to have ISIS overrunning Iraq's Anbar province their presence is not entirely detrimental to US policy. The half-hearted attempt at engagement on the part of the US demonstrates this.  

Why would the US want ISIS in Iraq? Western Establishment media won't really talk about it, but Bush's 2003 invasion has proven a disaster in almost every way, or has it? I suppose it depends on your perspective. The precarious and fragile balance of power in the Middle East was destroyed and ironically Iran has benefited more than anyone else. Bush's foolish policies and agenda have greatly enhanced the Tehran regime. Though Tehran has been dealt a good hand, it may very well be that war itself is the objective.

The chess players in Washington and Europe have sought to capitalize on Iran's ascendancy and may indeed be setting up for a grand move against Iran. The nuclear peace deal may be little more than a tool of delay. Time will tell.

One thing is becoming all too clear. There are many in the West who are pushing for what can only be described as Sykes-Picot II, a newly negotiated and re-organized map of the Middle East. Though Obama seemed to represent a break with Neo-conservative policy, their agenda continues to be implemented. Either Obama has acquiesced or it's out of his hands. Regardless there are forces being unleashed that may prove difficult to contain or control. The Middle East is not disconnected from the larger geopolitical struggles. Russia's recent actions make this all too clear.

Democracy in Iraq means the Shiites have benefited and ascended to power. This has greatly upset the Saudis and Qataris as well as Washington. This has all but handed Iraq over the Iran. Sectarian strife has spiraled out of control. Some believe the US is upset at this, and others suggest they have fanned the flames. It depends on whether you accept the official line or genuinely believe that the ISIS war is serving a larger purpose, a new series of wars and the re-mapping of the Middle East.

The American trained and equipped Iraqi army which is dominated by Shiites does not trust the Americans and are for the most part unwilling to cooperate with them. Unlike the American public the Iraqis see what is going on and know ISIS is being backed by US allies. This is not being done under the nose of Washington but with their tacit support.

So is the nightly news just a big sham? Is the US actually supporting all these attacks?

Not exactly. The US wants ISIS contained to Western Iraq but especially Syria. They are using al Nusra and the Kurds to contain them and focus them so to speak. The chaos is affording the US an excuse to remain in the region.

Was this Obama's plan? It seemed like he really wanted to get out of the Middle East and focus on China and Asia. He's doing it anyway but perhaps at a lesser tempo.

Is Obama trapped by events in Iraq? That's one way to look at it. He may have shifted his own thinking and been convinced the US needs to remain in the region. Or, as mentioned previously events may have moved beyond his ability to control them.

Or, given past history concerning the Pentagon and Langley's sometimes treacherous relationships with presidential administrations, they may have assisted in orchestrating conditions that demand the US stay engaged in the region. For him to admit it, is to lose face and destabilize the country.

The US has pulled out the massive troop formations but is still heavily engaged. A smaller footprint and re-engagement seems to be taking shape. A new administration will likely increase American involvement.

This is about a lot more than Syria or even Iraq. This struggle touches on the Cold War between the Saudis and the Iranians. It touches on energy resources and control of pipeline routes. Russia was always in the picture too and Putin's intervention was more or less his way of trying to control events rather than be manipulated by others. Russia doesn't want to see Assad fall but this is also about Iran... and what lies beyond.

If we place ourselves in the shoes of the geopolitical schemers and think several moves ahead, it cannot be doubted, and in fact can be documented, that questions with regard to Iran touch on the next set of moves-- Central Asia and the control of the Eurasian landmass.

This is why the tensions with China in Southeast Asia are not unrelated to the proxy battles taking place in Syria and Ukraine. Some believe we are seeing the opening shots of not only a grand regional war in the Middle East but what may very well become a world war.

ISIS is in some ways a distraction. They're a wicked bestial lot to be sure, but right now their existence really helps facilitate a host of policy goals for the West. The struggle in the Middle East is not about the ISIS threat. They are but a factor or component in a much larger, very complicated and dangerous puzzle.

In light of all the rhetoric regarding Obama's 'weakness' and Putin's 'aggression' it must be said again that regardless of whether or not the Neo-conservatives and the PNAC agenda have been formally removed from power, they're agenda is being worked out. They were always a bit naive and simplistic in their thinking but even though Bush is gone, Obama one way or another is executing their plan.

The game is being played for global hegemony. It's getting sinister and a little scary. Christ's words regarding wars and rumours of wars are a comfort but I still lament the lies and deception that are at work. If the antagonism continues to escalate, if the struggle continues to grow hot, I wonder what will become of our Babylon that we inhabit and how will the Church respond? I am not optimistic in the least.

If you think it incredible that the US would play such a game, then I encourage readers to revisit the past and look at US actions in places like Angola, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Afghanistan, Cambodia and Congo. And that's just for starters. The US like all empires will employ evil and brutal means to accomplish its goals even if it means supporting proxy armies that are monstrous and maniacal.

Empires always need enemies. It's very cynical but it's often convenient to use one enemy to destroy another and then when that's done, destroy the first one as a reward. This sort of cynicism was at the heart of what was revealed by Iran-Contra.

Nothing has changed. In fact the stakes are even higher today and the world is more complicated and dangerous.

So, is the US backing ISIS? It's not that simple. ISIS is an enemy, but one that serves a purpose.

As I've talked about before the US employs a Strategy of Tension. With ISIS this is not 'just' about the Middle East or Central Asia. The refugee crisis is playing a role in European politics. As I've talked about, the US has never wanted to see a strong EU that is a rival to US power. It likes a strong EU vis-à-vis Russia. NATO is also a tool in this arsenal. But it doesn't like an EU that is an economic competitor or one that can pursue a parallel geopolitical strategy. The US has worked to empower the French Right and bring France back into line with the US. They seek to undo all that de Gaulle, Mitterrand and Chirac sought to implement.

Germany is being turned back toward nationalism and they are beginning to re-engage militarily. This can only increase European tensions and anxieties. And yet the Germans can see all too well, the Middle East is being carved up and everyone wants to get their piece. That's why everyone is eager to get into the game. Germany's connections are with the Turks and the Kurds. This goes back to the Gastarbeiter agreements in the early 1960's.

I don't believe the US wants to see the EU break up, at least not right now. But ultimately a weak EU or one slightly polarized would better serve US interests. The US pursued this policy in the 1970's and worked to bring Right-wing governments into power.

Depending on how you want to read the situation the US dropped the ball in the 1990's, or you might say US policy was focused more on the Middle East and globalisation in general. I do not believe the policy makers and planners, or even the US Praetorians maintain some kind of absolute or orchestrated control. And there are dissensions among them.

The rapid ascension of technology, limited resources, climate and population have in just a short time radically changed the nature of the struggle for power. The architects and intellectuals believe the world is on the edge of crisis if not potential collapse and this danger is accelerating the need for the Establishment to take the world into a new era, a new epoch of civilisation. War may in the end prove the most trustworthy catalyst. The prize is mastery of the world.

Only Christians who are consciously pilgrims and exiles in mindset and outlook have a hope in understanding what is happening and why. And only the ethic of the sojourner will have a hope of maintaining some kind of integrity and wisdom during this tumult and transition. This is not meant to sound arrogant, but is an impassioned cry of warning. Be not deceived.