Obama is trying to get $500,000,000 in order to support and train ‘moderate’ anti Assad rebels in Syria as a counterpoint to ISIS in both Syria and Iraq.
US armed Drones are now in the skies of Iraq. To support the ground troops who are there to ‘Advise’ the Iraqi army once again.
We have the situation where on one side of a line on a map ISIS is overrunning IRAQ and is therefore bad but on the other side of a line on a map they are fighting Assad which is good.
In Syria Assad is fighting ISIS which is bad because he is a tyrant, in Iraq Assad is bombing ISIS which is good because ISIS are the enemy of freedom.
The house of Saud are allies of America and support the US in the middle east (not to mention all that Oil) but they also sponsor and support Sunni groups such as ISIS which is good in Syria but bad in Iraq.
How much trouble is that one line on a map causing!
Step across it and you go from freedom fighter to terrorist, in Iraq they are dropping bombs on you, walk across the border and they give you money or training or weapons to fight Assad.
Middle Eastern Politics in action.
What we see is Iraq has ceased to be a single nation and is functioning as three separate countries. The north a strongly Sunni state under the theocratic control of ISIS and the Sunni tribal councils, the Kurdish zone which now seems to have expanded to cover Kirkuk is operating as a separate state, it has a government and an army after all. The predominantly Shia south is still with the government of Bagdad but is being increasingly dominated by Shia warlords and militias. Iraq now no longer has a border with Syria or Jordan.
But Iraq is not a single problem, nor is Syria a single problem, or Libya or the Lebanon.
The whole of the Middle East is one single tightly interwoven religious civil war that is steadily expanding in both scope and violence. The root of the problem is not Tyranny verses democracy verses theocracy.
Obama wants to give training and support to moderates in Syria. But there is a very real lack of anything approaching a ‘moderate’ Islamic aligned force in Syria that will not simply turn over any aid to ISIS or another such group, any organisation that has taken sides in the Sunni / Shia religious conflict will inevitably be drawn in on their side by attacks from the other side if nothing else.
Some blame Blair for all this, some say the Americans should not have pulled out of Iraq. Some blame both the US and UK for not bombing Assad and leaving him in control of Syria, some blame the post war carve up of the entire middle east by the victorious powers and the arbitrary way they created ad hoc countries.
Actually that last one has a chunk of truth about it but it’s not the whole reason. Blair may be a slimy snake oil salesman but it’s not his fault either, he helped but he didn’t create the problem.
Assad is not the problem, Gaddafi was not the problem, Saddam was not the problem. What they did was keep the problem bottled up and tightly controlled till the west came in to meddle and the Information age arrived to spread the word of rebellion and holy war.
No the problem was a bunch of old men having an argument about who should succeed another old man and why. The old man who had died was leader of a new religion, the argument was over his relatives or tribal leaders taking control of the faith.
Everything else since then is the result of this. Sunni may fight Sunni form time to time, Shia may fight Shia, but the heart of the fighting for centuries has been Sunni and Shia fighting each other. Any nation that contains both faiths is going to tear itself apart unless it is strongly controlled by a non religious government or one which is strictly allied to one faith or the other.
The problem is the west considers such governments to by non democratic tyrannies and overthrows them, opening the region up to religious wars.
What we are seeing is a cycle that has gone round and round for centuries before the west decided to step in. Now it is far worse that it has ever been, western money, western weapons and training and Oil money used to bring in other weapons and equipment.
The Russians rolled into Afghanistan and the local tribal warriors, the Taliban rose up to fight them. But the Russians were a modern army with modern weapons, as the Taliban said at the time “We do not fear the Russians, we fear their helicopters”.
Enter the US with weapons and equipment, training and support. CIA agents on the ground and friendly arms dealers in neighbouring countries rapidly turned the Afghan invasion into Russian control of the lowlands and the capital and the rest of the country into a free fire zone which ground down the Russians and locals alike.
When the Russians withdrew they left behind them a lot of equipment for the remains of the government to use and large numbers of Taliban who were by now well trained by the US and experience in battle.
The same Taliban fighters that the CIA trained and equipped to fight the Russians in Afghanistan have trained their sons to fight the Americans in Afghanistan.
In Iraq the West rolled in and overthrew another dictator with Shock and Awe. The standing army was smashed and dissolved, the ruling political party was declared illegal and driven out of power. So the country had no government and no army. Enter democracy where people could have a genuine vote. Result, the significantly larger numbers of Shia returned a Shia government, people who had suffered for many years under the Sunni government of Saddam were now in power.
Payback was a bitch, oh and the Oil wealth was very tempting. The Sunni found the situation reversed as the Shia now oppressed them and the level of corruption remained unchanged as a new group of people got their hands on the money for themselves.
The US spent Billions building a new army from scratch, all the latest in military hardware, the same vehicles and weapons that the US used.
Then the Shia militias in the south got fed up with the Great Satan hanging around and trouble started again till the West left.
For a few years things were back to normal, as they had been under Saddam but reversed. The same corruption and the same tyranny and oppression only the Shia were now in charge.
This created a significant level of dissatisfaction among the Sunni who had very much got the smelly end of the stick and they started to rebel and fight back.
In Libya the west decided Gaddafi had to go so they supported a rebellion against him. Weapons and training and equipment and a bombing campaign. Those who fought against the Tyrant were ‘good’ Islamists because they were doing what the US and the West wanted. Till Gaddafi was dead and the significant stockpiles of weapons his army had were looted and turned on each other or the US embassy.
In Syria the ruling regime is Alawite, an offshoot of Shia, the majority of the population is Sunni. The rebellion against Assad was started by Sunni groups. The West along with Saudi Arabia swung into action providing support, money, training and equipment to these Sunni rebels.
Then over time it became clear that some of them were more extreme and western news started to tell tales of atrocities, beheadings, murders and torture. So public support for the ‘Extremists’ started to dry up (publicly anyway). Groups of anti Assad Rebels who were not openly extremist started to call for help because they were being attacked by both Assad AND the extreme groups.
Behind the scenes however there are still reports of bases in Turkey providing US or Saudi provided support to the rebels.
Assad is hanging on. A small Island state just off the northern end of continental Europe had a rare moment of democracy and sanity and voted NO to another Libyan style bombing campaign.
The US decided that without GBplc they were reluctant to go ahead with bombing Syria back to chaos and a mess of rival warring religious gangs. The French stepped in and offered to join the US, Kerry declared France to be Americas oldest Ally but congress then decided that if the Brits were not willing to bomb someone the US should maybe hold off.
So Syria remains a vast training camp for Sunni fighters across the Middle east and the world. Thousands have travelled there to be trained and equipped, either by those US and Saudi funded teams or by all those veteran fighters from Syria and Libya and Afghanistan many of whom were taught by the men who were trained by the US to fight against the Russians.
Back to Iraq. The northern Sunni stood up against the corrupt tyrannical Shia regime in the capital.
Does that sound familiar to anyone? It should since it is exactly the reason why every other war in the Middle East has started over decades. The leadership is unrepresentative, cruel, corrupt etc etc.
So a call to war went out, the Sunni were being oppressed by the hated Shia, come join us brothers in a holy war. Veterans of Libya (trained and supported by the US and Europe) armed from the looted Libyan bases came. Veterans of Syria (trained, equipped and supported by the US and Saudis) came. Sunni volunteers came from Europe and the US to be trained in Syria then walked across the border to join the new holy war. Suddenly the same fighters and rebels that the US and Europe and the House of Saud had been training and supporting were now starting a new war on their own.
ISIS (or IS as they now want to be called) swept across northern Iraq, the Sunni tribes, the Bathist party, the veterans of Saddam’s army, all of whom had suffered from the actions of the Shia government came out in support. The Iraqi army, so carefully trained and equipped at great US expense either ran away and gave up when their officers ran for it. The Shia had no interest in fighting to protect Sunni towns or Sunni people so they ran away.
The army of a fake nation turned out to be as fake as Iraq itself.
As ISIS pushed south and began to threaten Shia land and Shia people and Shia holy places we saw a huge surge in militias and volunteers. Men happy to fight to defend their own but with little or no willingness to defend the other. The same Militias that fought against the US are now back ready to defend Baghdad from the Sunni.
The US and the Saudis are now facing a large problem. ISIS (or the IS) are not under Saudi control and despite taking Saudi money are unlikely to be friendly when it comes to the new Caliphates relationship with the princes.
The US has spent untold billions training and equipping a force that is now carving up the country the US created (Shia ruled Iraq). US boots are back on the ground and US drones and missiles are now in the air over Iraq.
The Iraqi army cannot stop them, the Kurds are struggling to hold them back. Both groups are significantly outclassed by the well armed and equipped veterans of ISIS. Baghdad in fact is celebrating the arrival of new Russian military aircraft to add to the fighting.
So we enter the next round of this merry go round. The US is reluctant to get involved in yet another ground war, hence the armed Drones everywhere. But instead they have decided to spend another half billion to train and equip yet more people to fight the last lot of people they spent billions equipping and training.
Kerry is apparently dropping hints about a new force made up of Syrian and foreign fighters to both fight Assad and ISIS. To be trained and equipped with that half billion Dollars Obama is asking for.
But just who are they talking about. The newly created Islamic State of eastern Syria and northern Iraq is Sunni. They are calling upon other Sunni to join them in their holy war against the Shia. Assad is Shia.
So any group that would be willing to fight against the Sunni is not going to be fellow Sunni, it will be Shia which would make them reluctant to fight Assad and his multinational Shia force (look it up, Assad has a multinational military alliance fighting with him). Any group happy to fight Assad and the Shia will be reluctant at best and allies of ISIS at worst.
Just who exactly is the US going to be training and equipping?
Surely the US would have realised by now that all they are doing is pouring fuel on this religious war, or are the conspiracy theorist right and that is the point of supporting and supplying both sides of this civil war. Surely the politicians have noticed that when they meddle here things get worse.