Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Moderate Allies In The Middle East? An Oxymoron.

First published in DelawareLiberal on 8/26/2014 by ProgressivePopulist

The fruitless search for moderate allies in the middle east is absurd.  I'm an optimist, but this idea is ridiculous.  Moderate nations to create both a political and military front to stop and roll back the ISIL Caliphate?  Syria?  Iran?  They were "enemies" before being considered as future allies.

But there are other potential allies to lead the effort to roll back ISIL because they are terrified of these whacked out warriors; the recent attack by Egypt and the UAE on the Libyan militants gives some hope for some form of coalition that could take on this task.  Diplomacy with ISIL seems a total fantasy.

Add to the 500,000 or so Egyptian and UAE boots on the ground,  if not committed elsewhere, the Saudi's 250,000, Jordan's 100,000 and maybe 20,000 from Kuwait and Qatar and you're talking close to a 100  to 1 advantage over ISIL on the ground.  A number of these countries have both heavy firepower and some air power.  Then you've got a serious advantage if they have the will to win. Iran with their 500,000 active military could seriously sweeten the pot, especially in Iraq and slam dunk at least ISIL containment.   Contained where I don't know for this stateless bunch.

And we're going to have to ask ourselves quite seriously who is  the worst threat to our security; Assad or ISIL ?  The answer is pretty obvious to me.
And, how about Israel?  They've got much more to worry about with ISIL than even currently on their plate with Hamas.  They can add another 175,000 active military plus lots of experience with the IDF.  Maybe it is time to refocus their security priorities and payback for all the military toys we've funded over the years.

But make no mistake here, these are no "moderates" let alone budding democracies.  This includes Israel.  Democracy, sort of, moderate no.  Jordan is creeping toward democracy.   Funding for ISIL is coming from within most of those "allies". Just as it is for Al Qa'ida.  Hell, we trained ISIl in the form of the Yarmouk Brigade in Jordan and armed them.  Some of those arms are now showing up in Iraq !  So are our strategies taught by us to the Iraq Sunni opposition.   Sound familiar?  Afghanistan-Al Qa'ida and the Taliban aided by the U.S. to oppose the Russian occupation?

To have fantasized that we might have sided with Syrian rebels to oppose Assad while siding with Maliki was ridiculous.  That would have generated the ISIL caliphate and headquartered it in Damascus.  To have fantasized that with the obliteration of Bin Laden and the Al Qa'ida central command we were on our way to victory is somewhat dampened by the metastasising of the organization throughout middle east and africa.   At least one survey of opinions of non-Al Qa'ida affiliated jihadist rebels in Syria revealed approval of the 9-11 attacks and the hope for more to come.

The truth seems to be that the goals of both ISIL and Al Qa'ida seem quite similar.   For that matter, the religious goals of the Saudi power structure and the Pakistan military intelligence  network (ISI), though the Saudi's are more geographically ambitious than the ISI who seem focused on the Af/Pak region.   This was revealed in the Wikileaks document dump which included statements to that effect from the U.S. State Department.

Yet, the War on Terror seems focused on Al Qa'ida, not the totality of the Jihadist movement, all focused on the same creed and goals.  In spite of huge increases in the homeland security budget, not to mention NSA and the CIA's  budgets, we seem utterly shocked, just shocked at the emergence of ISIS.

Isn't it time to refocus?   The hanging of an ISIL flag on the fence at the White House, as reported by ABC news should be a bit of a jolt.  I don't think the homeland is facing an invasion by these crazies any time soon but terror strikes are well within the realm of possibility.

Looks like its time to abandon all old assumptions and rethink alliances with new creativity and realism.  No. Not take on this challenge alone or with U.S. military boots on the ground.  There's close to a million active military boots of those already in the region from among the middle east nations with close borders and very much to lose to the Caliphate. Brilliant diplomacy with those most threatened by the Caliphate can provide ample military response to their immediate threat and containment.  Obama is both a very cool head in this terrifying drama and a brilliant thinker, in and out of the box.  He can do this if the war drum bangers don't overwhelm us with fear and disinformation.

If we haven't already, I'm hopeful  Sec. Kerry can pull those most threatened together in some kind of summit.  And perhaps hammer out a deal where, if invited, we provide hardware and strategic advice, providing we can cut deals with each to cut funding for Jihad from within their own ranks.  The Saudi comes to mind especially here. And  in return for funding/military hardware, we negotiate with each for abundant intelligence on ISIL and all Jihadist groups and very strong screening on their end of travelers heading west to help us identify the crazies heading our way.

A cold, steely recognition is needed that we're not dealing with moderates by any stretch.  And recognizing that the military hardware involved may well be used against us by some elements in their midst down the road. And a clear understanding that we're not dealing with totally reliable partners here given the mercurial environment they've had to operate in to survive.