Obama’s Baffling ISIS Strategy

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By: Brent Parrish

Back in August 2013 I wrote a 6,000-plus-word article examining the alleged chemical attack that occurred in eastern Gouta, Syria. There was a great deal of conflicting reports at the time as to who was responsible for the attack. There was even evidence the reported chemical attack might have been staged by so-called Syrian “rebels” in order to bring in U.S. air power against the Assad regime. But the Obama Administration and numerous members of Congress insisted Assad’s regime was clearly responsible.

What intrigued me at the time was what the main-stream media was not reporting. There appeared to be a media blackout on any intelligence or reports that did not support the claim the Assad regime was guilty of using sarin gas against its own people, despite a mountain of contradictory evidence.

Regardless, Barack Obama and neocons like John McCain seemed eager to strike at the Syrian regime, acting as if Assad’s complicity in the chemical attack in Gouta was an open-and-shut case. There seemed to be a “rush to war” mentality by the very administration that constantly railed against George W. Bush for “rushing to war in Iraq.”

In fact, Bush waited 18 months to invade Iraq, and he formed a United Nations’ coalition. Yet, ironically, within a matter of weeks, Obama wanted to begin bombing targets in Syria, while a number of Democrats called the action “immediately necessary,” sans any coalition sanctioned by the UN. Bush was also constantly criticized by the left for acting unilaterally in Iraq. Yet the Obama Administration seemed more than willing to act unilaterally in Syria last year.

Talk about irony.

But the irony does not end there. Michael Ledeen revealed in an article appearing at PJ Media that during the 2008 presidential campaign Obama employed Ambassador William G. Miller to reassure Iranian leaders that he was a friend of the Islamic Republic. Obama also used his closest adviser, Valerie Jarrett, to help manage the relationship with Tehran.

Ledeen wrote (emphasis mine):

The central theme in Obama’s outreach to Iran is his conviction that the United States has historically played a wicked role in the Middle East, and that the best things he can do for that part of the world is to limit and withdraw American military might, and empower our self-declared enemies, whose hostility to traditional American policies he largely shares.

If we look at the current crisis through an Iranian lens, our apparent indecisiveness is easier to understand, for it systematically favors Iran’s interests. Tehran’s closest ally is Syrian dictator Bashar Assad. If Assad were to be overthrown by opposition forces hostile to Iran, it would be a devastating blow to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who has committed tens of thousands of fighters (from Hezbollah, the Revolutionary Guards and the Basij) to shore up the Damascus regime. Everything Iran does in the region revolves around the necessity of preserving Assad’s tyranny.

Obama surely understands this. It therefore made no sense to bomb Syria in the otherwise baffling about-face on the “red line” a year ago. In like manner, the refusal to take decisive action today against the Islamic State caters to Iranian and Syrian concerns. Remember that ISIS was supported by Iran and Syria as a weapon against anti-Assad and anti-Iranian forces (from the Kurds to the FSA), none of whom is receiving serious American support.

It is exceedingly unlikely that Mr. Obama will do anything that would threaten Assad’s rule or Iran’s power. To do so would be tantamount to abandoning his core strategy of creating a U.S.-Iranian alliance that would make Tehran the major regional power and Washington a friendly kibbitzer and adviser.

A cursory examination of the current situation in Iraq and Syria may leave one scratching their head. Why would the Obama Administration wish to ally itself with Iran to fight ISIS when it was Iran and Syria that supported ISIS in the first place?

Former Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi (C) attends a meeting with Turkish President Abdullah Gul and Iran's former president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, after the opening of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) summit in Cairo February 6, 2013.(Photo: Reuters/Egyptian Presidency/Handout)

Former Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi (C) attends a meeting with Turkish President Abdullah Gul and Iran’s former president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, after the opening of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) summit in Cairo February 6, 2013.(Photo: Reuters/Egyptian Presidency/Handout)

While researching the relationship between the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran, I ran across an intriguing article published in the Middle Eastern publication Al-Monitor that examines the nature of the relationship between the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria and Iran. The head of Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood politburo, Hassan Hachimi, spoke with Al-Monitor and offered some interesting insights on ISIS. Hachimi accused Iran of backing ISIS.

Here’s a slice of the Al-Monitor interview with Hachimi:

Al-Monitor:  ISIS captured Mosul this week, and they’re extending their reach and power. How has this organization become so powerful? Where are they getting their support from? How do you stop them?

Hachimi:  I have my own theory on ISIS. ISIS’s story, since the start as far as we’re concerned, in Syria was supported by security forces in the Syrian regime and Iran. Although it seems awkward because they were fighting the regime in some cases. Of course, in Syria they were never really fighting the regime, they always used to call it freeing the freed lands. Wherever the Free Syrian Army (FSA) freed lands, they would go and take it over. We have tons of examples where they would be backed by the regime, where their back would be to the regime fighting the FSA. We have lots of examples, and this is firsthand from people fighting on the ground, this means a lot to us.

This means that the regime and Iran are planning a big scheme. The scheme that they’re planning is still under their control. They will let these guys, who they would like to call “Sunni extremist image,” behave in an ugly, totally un-Islamic manner. Nothing of what they’re doing is Islamic in performance, in ideology, in thought. This is the ugly image that they [Syrian regime and Iran] are promoting. But [Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-]Maliki is allied to Iran, so does it make sense that Iran also supports ISIS? It makes sense because it means that they are allowing ISIS to lash out, and against this they will put us — the Syrian opposition — in the same basket with ISIS. This is basically how they are trying to present it to the world who aren’t really following the details. In Europe and even the United States, you would be surprised at the lack of information and ignorance that you would see.

It’s about the headlines, and you know how the media psychology works, you just leave the image, you don’t really go into the details. So, basically, the image they [Iran] are trying to send [is] that here we have a battle that is the same as yours, we are fighting terrorism, and we have now Rouhani who is a moderate, and who is trying to cooperate, and Syria all of a sudden might be a partner. This is an attempt to rehabilitate Assad. Syria is very important to Iran. Mosul today is part of the big scheme to convince the world that there’s a need for a resolution in Syria where Assad is rehabilitated and stays in Syria, and the opposition is marginalized. I think if they achieve this, they will have the Iran-Maliki-Assad-Hezbollah circle that will continue to be a power in the region. This is a price worth paying for — for them.

Al-Monitor:  Do you have any evidence of Iranian support for ISIS?

Hachimi:  Of course we do. First, at the beginning, we know that ISIS’s first announcement was when they defected from al-Nusra. Since early, through our people on the ground, we know in terms of participants, those who were in the regime’s security forces all of a sudden have long beards and are now in ISIS or al-Nusra. The second, the Iranian attempt to get in touch with the Syrian opposition would always carry with it attempts to say that we are willing to support you. This doesn’t make any sense, you support Bashar, how would you support the opposition? Amongst that, and this is through important middle people, they will say we are prepared to support you, we are already supporting al-Nusra and ISIS. This was mentioned literally by them, they said that we are doing so.

We all know of course that still important [jihadist] figures are living in Iran, in camps. The passports that were confiscated were hundreds. We have lots of evidence, we have lots of passports and people who were captured on the ground who were from Iran or trained there. The real question is: Why is no one listening to this? This is not new of course, this piece of information has been around for quite some time. Why is nobody taking action? Why is the action going the other way around, and going toward Iran to make it a partner in the solution, and make it achieve its scheme, and make a Shiite front that will prevent any development in the region? This is a very big obstacle in the whole regional picture.

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Michael Ledeen’s analysis and Hachimi’s comments provides an intriguing explanation as to why there has been so much infighting between ISIS and Syrian opposition groups like the Jabhat al-Nusra, Free Syrian Army, Syrian Liberation Front, Islamic Front, and numerous other named groups fighting against the Assad regime.

Hachimi also mentioned in his interview with Al-Monitor that ISIS cleaved away from the al-Qaeda linked al-Nusra Front. There have been numerous reports of deadly battles between al-Nusra and ISIS as of late.  ISIS is seen by many Syrians as “foreign occupiers,” while al-Nusra is seen as homegrown. While both Jahbat al-Nusra and ISIS share many of the same aims, there are significant differences between the two terrorist groups.

Sarah Birke describes the split between ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra, and the growing power of ISIS:

Over the following year Nusra steadily gained strength, and in April 2013 al-Baghdadi decided it was time to merge Nusra with al-Qaeda in Iraq, expanding the geographical spread of the organization, which doesn’t recognize national borders but seeks to unite the entire umma, or Muslim community of believers, under one rule. He declared the two branches would be known as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham. Al-Sham refers to Greater Syria, the whole expanse of the Levant that holds a special place in jihadist thought for being the heart of the region and close to Jerusalem. But Jabhat al-Nusra’s leader Mohammed al-Jolani, who is Syrian, refused the merger, possibly because it had not been sanctioned by al-Qaeda’s chief, Ayman Zawahiri, who later ruled that the two groups should remain separate (a ruling ignored by the ambitious Baghdadi, leading some to consider ISIS outside al-Qaeda).

In fact, while ISIS and Nusra share many aims, and both are well funded and trained, there are significant differences between the two groups. Jabhat al-Nusra stresses the fight against Assad, while ISIS tends to be more focused on establishing its own rule on conquered territory. Nusra has pursued a strategy of slowly building support for an Islamic state, while ISIS is far more ruthless, carrying out sectarian attacks and imposing sharia law immediately. And while Nusra, despite its large contingent of foreign fighters, is seen as a home-grown problem, Syrians at the border frequently described Da’ash as foreign “occupiers” in their country.

There are some who believe Obama’s strategy to conduct airstrikes in Syria against ISIS is really just a ruse to take down the Assad regime. But, when one considers Obama’s strategy to arm and train so-called “moderate” Syrian rebels in the fight against ISIS, a rather glaring contradiction arises. If the true goal of the Obama Administration is to remove Assad from power, then arming and training the Syrian opposition to lead the fight against ISIS forces them to fight a two-front war. Hardly an effective strategy if the ultimate goal is to take down the Assad regime.

Birke mentions in her article that ISIS’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, wanted to merge al-Nusra and ISIS in April 2013. But the leader of al-Nusra Front, Mohammed al-Jolani, opposed the merger, possibly because it was not sanctioned by al-Qaeda’s number one man, Ayman Zawahiri.

al-nusra-front-abu-mohammad-al-jolani

Mohammed al-Jolani, leader of the al-Qaeda linked group Jahbat al-Nusra

Not too long ago, I wrote a brief article that examined the role of Qatar in funding and supporting groups like ISIS and Jahbat al-Nusra. What emerges is a very convoluted and twisted picture of the conflict occurring now in the Middle East. It literally makes no sense at first blush. This is why I think it is necessary to step outside of the Middle Eastern box and examine some of the major players involved in the region—namely, Russia, China and the United States.

Let’s just return to the Egyptian revolution that brought Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood to power for a bit. Prior to Morsi taking power in Egypt in June 2012, the United States had agents in Egypt acting as agitators in an effort to bring down Mubarak, according to Arthur R. Thompson, CEO of the John Birch Society. These agents were connected to three U.S. institutions—specifically, the International Republican Institute, International Democratic Institute and Freedom House. All three institutions are funded by the National Endowment for Democracy—which is, in turn, funded by the U.S. State Department.

It quickly became obvious the Morsi government was a hardcore jihadist regime brought to power by far-left, militant forces. The Egyptian military conducted a coup and arrested the U.S. agents involved in stimulating the demonstrations and riots that occurred in the streets of Cairo that brought Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood to power.

Shortly thereafter, both Sen. John McCain and Sen. Lindsey Graham traveled to Egypt to secure the release of the detained agents and to demand the restoration of  democracy, which meant putting Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood back in power. Although the U.S. agents were allowed to return to the United States, they were tried in absentia by Egyptian authorities and found guilty. As a result, they were banned from ever returning to Egypt again. McCain then started calling for the arming of Syrian “rebels.”

U.S. Senators John McCain, left, and Lindsey Graham, right, talk during a press conference in Cairo, Egypt, Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013. The two senior U.S. senators have urged Egypt's military-backed government to release detained members of the Muslim Brotherhood before starting negotiations. Tuesday's comments came after McCain and Graham met with top military and civilian leaders in Cairo as part of a flurry of international efforts to resolve a standoff with supporters of the ousted president Mohammed Morsi. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

U.S. Senators John McCain, left, and Lindsey Graham, right, talk during a press conference in Cairo, Egypt, Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013. The two senior U.S. senators have urged Egypt’s military-backed government to release detained members of the Muslim Brotherhood before starting negotiations. Tuesday’s comments came after McCain and Graham met with top military and civilian leaders in Cairo as part of a flurry of international efforts to resolve a standoff with supporters of the ousted president Mohammed Morsi. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

By the way, Sen. John McCain is chairman of the International Republican Institute. But it is not just Sen. John McCain who supports measures to arm the Syrian opposition, but people like Sec. of State John Kerry and President Barack Obama as well.

And while we’re on the subject of the Muslim Brotherhood, it is worth reviewing its history and origins.

The Muslim Brotherhood was founded in 1928 by Hassan al-Banna. By the 1930’s, the Brotherhood (ikhwan) had formed close links with the Nazis, and was involved in agitation, espionage and sabotage against the British.

Sayyid Qutb

Sayyid Qutb

One of the most influential members of the Muslim Brotherhood was Sayyid Qutb, who advocated violent jihad against non-Muslims and the West during the 1950’s and 60’s. Qutb was convicted and hanged in 1966 for plotting the assassination of Egyptian dictator Gamal Abdel Nasser.

One of Qutb’s disciples, Fathi Yakan, wrote:

The groundwork for the French Revolution was laid by Rousseau, Voltaire and Montesquieu; the Communist Revolution realized plans set by Marx, Engels and Lenin…. The same holds true for us as well.

The words of Fathi Yakan more closely resembles the model of a socialist conspiracy rather than an Islamic one.

A little taste of Fathi Yakan:

On a related note, it was former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who was the first to translate the books of Sayyid Qutb into Farsi and encouraged their reading.

One year prior to Sayyid Qutb’s death, a 14-year-old Ayman al-Zawhiri joined the Muslim Brotherhood. Qutb’s execution had a profound impact on al-Zawahiri and fueled his intense desire “to put Qutb’s vision into action.” He eventually helped organize and merge other Islamic cells with his to form the Egyptian Islamic Jihad.

Al-Qaeda's number one man Ayman al-Zawahiri

Al-Qaeda’s number one man Ayman al-Zawahiri

Interestingly, what was revealed after 9/11, but largely ignored by the world press, was the revelation by KGB defector, Lt. Col. Alexander Litvinenko, that al-Zawahiri was a trained Russian asset of the KGB (now the FSB). Litvinenko paid with his life for this revelation, and others. Two Russian agents spiked Litvinenko’s tea in England with a highly radioactive substance that resulted in his eventual death—an excruciating one at that.

FILE - A Friday, May 10, 2002 photo from files showing Alexander Litvinenko, former KGB spy and author of the book "Blowing Up Russia: Terror From Within" photographed at his home in London. Polonium first hit the headlines when it was used to kill KGB agent-turned-Kremlin critic Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006. This week, Yasser Arafat's widow has called for the late Palestinian leader's body to be exhumed after scientists in Switzerland found elevated traces of radioactive polonium-210 on clothing he allegedly wore before his death in 2004.  (AP Photo/Alistair Fuller, File)

FILE – A Friday, May 10, 2002 photo from files showing Alexander Litvinenko, former KGB spy and author of the book “Blowing Up Russia: Terror From Within” photographed at his home in London. Polonium first hit the headlines when it was used to kill KGB agent-turned-Kremlin critic Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006. This week, Yasser Arafat’s widow has called for the late Palestinian leader’s body to be exhumed after scientists in Switzerland found elevated traces of radioactive polonium-210 on clothing he allegedly wore before his death in 2004. (AP Photo/Alistair Fuller, File)

When I met with Trevor Loudon when he visited Indianapolis in February, he pointed out the Russians have long used Islam as a battering ram against the West. The history of Russia’s involvement in global terrorism goes back to the end of World War II, not to mention the involvement in terror of communist states like China, Cuba and North Korea.

In a speech during the 1970’s, Leonid Brezhnev mentioned Islam was useful for promoting communism. Other sources which allude to the usefulness of Islam for the cause of international communism were published by the Russian organ Novosti, such as Soviet Power and Islam (1984) and The Speeches of Brezhnev (1981). There are other books that cover the subject matter as well, like Red Star Over Bethlehem and Terrorism and the Soviet Connection.

The paramount concern for the United States arming so-called Syrian “rebels” in Syria to allegedly fight ISIS is what happens if these arms fall into the wrong hands. We have already seen this happen when ISIS routed Iraqi forces in northern Iraq.

The U.S. is not only arming Syrian opposition forces—many of which are closely linked with Islamic terrorists—but we are also arming the Kurds. The Kurdish Workers Party is a communist organization that is on the U.S., EU and UN terror watch lists. Until recently the Kurdish Workers Party flag featured the hammer and sickle. Will this come back to bite us later?

Changchun 150, an anti-air guided missile destroyer, docked at the southern Iranian port city of Bandar Abbas.

Changchun 150, an anti-air guided missile destroyer, docked at the southern Iranian port city of Bandar Abbas.

Recently the Chinese Navy docked a destroyer in an Iranian port for the first time. This follows a visit by a Russian destroyer in April 2013.

The Navy Times reported:

TEHRAN, IRAN — A Chinese destroyer has docked in a southern Iranian port in the first such visit to the country by the Chinese navy, Iran’s state television reported on Sunday.

Adm. Hossein Azad, naval base chief in the southern port of Bandar Abbas, said the four-day visit that began Saturday saw the two navies sharing expertise in the field of marine rescue.

“On the last day of their visit while leaving Iran, the Chinese warships will stage a joint drill in line with mutual collaboration, and exchange of marine and technical information particularly in the field of aid and rescue,” said Azad.

The real litmus test is whether the Bashar al-Assad regime retains power now that the United States is involved militarily in Syria. Is the real goal of the administration is to take down Assad or ISIS? If the Assad regime does fall as a result of American military involvement, what will fill its place? To whose benefit?

Cui bono.

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About Brent Parrish

Author, blogger, editor, researcher, graphic artist, software engineer, carpenter, woodworker, guitar shredder and a strict constitutionalist. Member of the Watcher's Council and the Qatar Awareness Campaign. I believe in individual rights, limited government, fiscal responsibility and a strong defense. ONE WORD: FREEDOM!
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