Syrian and Iraqi crisis post-US presidential elections

TEHRAN, Sep. 16 (MNA) – Only few months later, new US president will settle in the White House; in this edition of elections, developments in the Middle East, especially in Iraq and Syria occupy the center-stage for either presidential campaign or the public in the US.

The crises in Iraq and Syria came to the foreground after Paris terrorist attacks earlier in 2015.

The collapse of the state in the Middle East with current states no longer functioning properly would jeopardize greater part of the US interests in the region. Weaker states are easy preys to terrorist groups where states supporting and arming terrorists regularly recruit fresh mercenaries. Weak states could pose other challenges to the US: a single most important challenge is which threatens her allies in the region. But, terrorism would have consequences to her at home as well. Already a Russian-Iranian pact and coordination in the Syria and Iraq has challenged some of the US lackluster positions in the region, forcing her to take different positions than she would otherwise. Iraq and Syria are important to the US. However, she has pursued different policies in Syria than in Iraq, adopting to the necessities of the situation. There is however evidence that Syrian crisis will occupy the place of a second priority in US Middle Eastern policies, since the nature of interests in Syria is different and less important, while in Iraq, US interests are at stake in some important ways.

US interests in Syria

Syria and some of Eastern European countries had been traditionally falling in the Russian scope of influence, where the US had no direct interests, Hezbollah and Iran links here being the exception. Syria is important for the US in some ways:

1- Capacities and resources of Syrian friends (Iran and Russia, inter alia) which would be excellent means to solve the crisis in Syria and thus contribute to US interests. With military means to change the equation in Syria laid in abeyance, the US will be unlikely to use military, with subsequent decline, albeit for the time being, in her hegemonic role;

2- Syria has been the golden ring in Resistance front against Arab conservative front, the major western ally in the region, and a major threat to the US-Zionist joint interests;

3- Syria is important for the US in a possible success of the major rivalry in the region, namely, Turkey and Saudi Arabia vis-à-vis Iran, for the interest of the former;

4- Syria is important for Russia-US balance of power, since it is the last resort for Russia to dictate its political and military preponderance in the region, which would be a hurdle for western and American agenda in the Middle East;

5- Syria is important for emergence of a new security arrangement in the Middle East, since it had been the sole Arab state (before the civil war engulfed the country in 2011) which came to oppose Zionism as its major foe, investing what she had in this conflict to win the fame of the only supporter of Resistance front; today as well, developments in Syria will have far-reaching consequences for Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine, Afghanistan and even Pakistan;

6- Developments in Syria and crisis management will have also impact on the Islamic Republic of Iran’s performance in the region;

7- A quadrilateral coalition in Syria is in conflict with western interests, with the future possibility of a Chinese contribution to the scene, and with likelihood that the contribution would bolster Resistance front;

8- The future of energy is in stake; Syrian gas reserves with a shift in modes of energy consumption toward gas, the country would host gas pipelines in the future, which will win for the country a US priority;

9- Syria is a ground where western collation seeks to attain its objectives.

American agenda in Syria

Since 2011, the US have pursued the following in Syria;

1- Weakening the government of Bashar al-Assad and strengthening her own armed fighter groups;

2- Supporting and improving position of so-called moderate opposition in efforts to curb and defeat ISIL;

3- Preparing for filling the possible vacuum with possible fall of Assad;

4- Advertising her imagined effective role in fighting global terrorism and extremism;

5- Coordinating operation of her collation in Syria against ISIL;

6- Opposing and minimizing Iran’s influence and position in Syria.

Currently, the US have been providing intelligence and arms support for moderate opposition, with a firm belief that this is the best possible option and tactical means to defeat ISIL and Assad government. With the temporary nature of tactics used by the US in the region, it is inevitable that the she will work with Russia in Syria to coordinate fight against ISIL, since Russians have recognized some groups of moderate opposition in concert with the US to help with the mechanism.

Iraq

In Iraq, influential groups, purportedly independent and acting on their own, have been under the effect of greater regional players as well as players beyond the region; a surge of terrorist attacks after the Parliamentary elections in Iraq would provide evidence to this.

Events in Iraq are closely associated with those in Syria. The situation turned to be different than what the acting players would assume, with Syrian government hitting much success on the ground against opposition and ISIL; the security arrangement has shifted in the interests of Assad’s government, and with a successful elections in June 3 2014, it plunged the opposition in despair, and mounting pressures on them so as to seek new grounds for operations against Assad. In line with this, western intelligence along with their allies Turkey and Saudi Arabia supported Iraqi Sunnis along Syrian borders to join the fighting terrorists in Iraq.

Syrian presidential elections gave government an upper-hand in crackdown on ISIL. Such a situation was dominant in Iraq when elections united the government and people. It was the first election since the withdrawal of US forces and was huge success with the government managing to restore security to ballots. The political participation was hope-inspiring, with all ethnic and religious groups contributing to a 62-per cent turnout. International observing body also approved the health of elections to add to the public euphoria.

The election success however incited intense opposition in other yet hostile groups which hated the course of events in Iraq and who opted to embark on a series of sabotage and suicide attacks. This trend of hatred is a common denominator of ISIL and its sympathizers in Iraq and Syria during six years of conflict. The losing parties (ISIL and other terrorists) have ever worked to change the situation to worse when Baghdad and Damascus succeeded. Terrorists have misinterpreted the events, since the situation in Iraq has changed for good, with ancien régime gone and a democratically-elected government ruling with the consent of the republic. In larger part of the Middle East and Persian Gulf states, and even in North Africa, democratic elections and governments have been rare and have not welcomed by the petty dictatorships ruling hereditarily.

Islamic Awakening and popular Arab uprisings totally changed the situation in the Arab world, with public finding chances to directly decide on their own future. In such open situations, most of the ruling regimes would see their interests at risk, thus initiating actions to prevent democratic movements and changes. The Awakening however had its own enemies and opportunists; in Iraq, such opportunist states sought a firm foothold to effectively install a regime favorable to their own interests. However, developments have been disappointing for these countries in the past decade and have forced them to resort to drastic tactics to destabilize Iraq through terrorism and sowing discord. The remaining cadres of Baathist party have formed the core elite of the ISIL and have been an excellent means to infiltrate Iraq with pernicious effect. ISIL is a terrorist organization with a religious label, while ironically, its members and other terrorist groups are by no means ‘practicing Muslims’ in strict sense of the term. The group have acted in blanket manner in targeting members of all known religious denominations in the region including Shi’ite, Sunni, Christian, Yazidi, etc. They uphold no certain religion, neither would they ascribe themselves to a certain country thanks to multinational nature of their members who come from diverse countries as Russian Muslim republics of Caspian Sea and Australia. As such, ISIL’s sympathizers and the ideology they preach have far-reaching effect all over the world, with Europe alarmed at the prospect of terrorist events in France. With improving situation in Iraq and Syria for the interest of ruling governments, there is a growing fear that these mercenaries will return to their home countries, with grave implications to the governments of these countries, for they would work as preachers of hatred and terrorism towards the majority non-Muslim population. European fanatics as well as Arab extremists contribute to the composition of ISIL. It is estimated that nationals of over 50 countries fight against Syrian government within a loose body of cacophonous and diverse extremist and Wahhabist terrorists, who have been seeking their mission in volatile situations and acts of atrocities and savagery they regularly engage in; their hotbed had been Iraq and during the years of instability, they migrated to Syria when the situation was ripe for such groups who saw the time opportune for their adventurism.

US elections and impact on Syrian and Iraqi crises

Within the US, Republicans and Democrats share the policies on the future of the crisis in Syria. Observers believe that however the major parties differ only in their methods of handling the issue. However, the present author believes that evidence shows that there will be absolutely no difference between Democrats and Republicans in both tactical and strategic views on the situation in Iraq and Syria given the past misadventures of the US in Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama’s flirtations with Russia have been only tactical, since the fate of Hilary Clinton, his fellow party’s major nominee for the November elections is at stake. The cooperation will have some agreements on Syria and Iraq with due impact on the presidential elections as well. As tactical, the agreement will in the most probability have no long-term effect on the situation in Iraq and Syria, since the objective is short-term and only seeks to create a margin of security for the Zionist regime. An examination of the presidential election nominees of both parties reveals no drastic difference in their plans for the future of Syria and the Middle East at large. Only the Republicans espouse a fast-tracked approach and more robust action, with the latter shared by Democrats as well. Both parties plan for a no-fly zone, and provision of training and logistics for moderate opposition groups against Assad and ISIL. The scope and intensity of such plans constitute the real point of departure of Dems and Reps. Donald Trump advocates curbing the influx of armed groups from the Turkish borders. He also supports sending boots either American or from other allied countries to accelerate fight against ISIL; however, Hillary Clinton has a penchant for diplomatic efforts led by the US in combination with air strikes by coalition and support for local fighters especially Kurds; she also shares with Trump establishment of the no-fly zone to solve crisis in Syria, but supports dividing Iraq to three Shi’ite, Sunni, and Kurd autonomous units.

With the corollary above, we reach at the following about the US presidential elections and its effect on the future of Iraq and Syria: the US is a hegemonic power which regularly resort, as a means, to Takfirist terrorists such as ISIL to destabilize Syria and Iraq and she will do in the future. For example, in an article in The Times in 2015, the author claimed that the US had been the major player behind formation of ISIL and continued to support and arm the group later in the course of group’s evolution to a full-fledged mercenary. The article also implicated US military and intelligence. Edward Joseph Snowden revealed that CIA worked closely with Israel’s Mossad and British MI6. “The former employee at US National Security Agency (NSA), Edward Snowden, has revealed that the British and American intelligence and the Mossad worked together to create the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).”Snowden said intelligence services of three countries created a terrorist organization that is able to attract all extremists of the world to one place, using a strategy called “the hornet’s nest.” NSA documents refer to recent implementation of the hornet’s nest to protect the Zionist entity by creating religious and Islamic slogans. According to documents released by Snowden, “The only solution for the protection of the Jewish state “is to create an enemy near its borders.” Leaks revealed that ISIS leader and cleric Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi took intensive military training for a whole year in the hands of Mossad, besides courses in theology and the art of speech. The Pentagon and the State Department listed Al-Baghdadi as highly wanted, with prizes soaring to $ 10m for him, dead or alive. This catapulted Baghdadi to a position of prominence in leading ISIL in Iraq and Syria. Western double-standards are evident in that Washington has not concealed its support for terrorist groups, but clearly admitted sending arms to some of terrorist groups classified by the US as moderates.

For nearly 6 years, terrorists have had the US support in their fierce fight against Syrian government and people; they have violated all ethical, human, and conventional values. Iraqi government would be paralyzed in its fight against terrorism should the Islamic Republic of Iran fail to support the government. Western powers had been crucial to resilience and resurgence of terrorist groups; serious action against terrorism could have ended them for good in the region. If the US only blocked paths where arms and money provided for terrorists, these groups would have been strictly limited in scope and we could have seen a step forward in achieving a region free of terrorism and crisis. However, things are not in the venues we assume and the US has not been true to its apparent pose of fighting terrorism, but used terrorism as instruments to her ends. In Iraq, the US have failed to contribute effectively to fight against ISIL, sharing the hostile Arab states’ criticism of the Shi’ite government of Mr. Heidar al-Ebadi and has posed her own political agenda dictated. Evidently, the US has abused terrorism as devices to her political means in especially forging three federations (yet on the paper however) of Shi’ites, Sunnis, and Kurds, which renders Iraq no longer extant. In her attempt, the US actions is in line with her grander scheme of the new Middle East where smaller and weaker governments live in a pandemonium of petty ethnic and religious conflicts. Such units could be easily manipulated in a region of utmost importance, where the US would have an extended presence in the absence of any regional power where Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Syria, etc. cease to exist and new entities appear in the map of the Middle East. The US would seek to appear as the ultimate savior, through her propaganda empire, and encumber with favor Iraqi government and nation while they have almost defeated ISIL, largely depriving them of their major strongholds and vast territories in Sunni-majority provinces. The claim then would be sold to the international community that the US ended the crisis in Iraq.

Among the long-term projects of the US are cheap energy and the possibility of an arms race in the newly-established countries which would buy inordinate amounts of weapons from the US and thus recycle their oil income back to America. Such strategy is a favor of Hillary Clinton’s and Democrat camp would welcome the initiative. In Syria, the US has appeared more deceptive, seeking to win the Islamic Republic of Iran’s consent in their new schemes of peace in Syria after Geneva round of talks systematically failed. In Syria, they welcome a destabilized country and region where their interests are best met. Whenever the balance of power has moved toward Syrian government, with terrorists pushed on the wall, the US, Saudis, and other actors armed the terrorists, with Democrats resorting to diplomacy to save their mercenaries. Now, the short-term objective ahead of the US elections is to change this balance for their interests.

Davoud Shayesteh is a Middle East affairs analyst. 

News Code 119727

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