Battlefield Middle East – War on the »Islamic State (IS)«
Notes from a Perspective of Military Theory and Geostrategy
By Jürgen Rose
Remarks on the senseless versus sensible use of military
With regard to the thesis „War is not a solution” often repeated like a mantra not just in pacifist circles but also in circles dealing with political science, the question about the „sense” or „nonsense” of the action by military force against the longstanding „Jihadist state-building project”1), under the tag »Islamic State (IS) «, must seem heretical. For, if war can never present a solution, then not only any military action is a priori nonsense, but the question itself is pointless, since the answer to this is also a priori fixed. On the other hand, the sheer question of the meaningfulness of a military act of force implies the abstract possibility that a warlike action against the IS might be a solution. The purpose of the following considerations is to what extent and under what conditions this might be true.
Starting point is the thesis that an answer to the question of the sense or nonsense of a military action against the IS cannot be derived from theoretical premises, but can be based solely on specific empirical conditions of conflict. With regard to the latter, the phenomenon » Islamic State« (Chapter 2 of this article) must be analyzed first, followed by its role and function within the overall strategy of the most important actor in the Greater Middle East, namely the United States of America (Chapter 3). Finally, in the light of the over-arching question, some implications from geo-strategic and geo-economic perspectives are to be discussed in terms of the sense and nonsense of military control of the IS (Chapter 4). Before this, however, the fundamental problematic of the sense or nonsense of action with military means of violence has to be examined more closely (Chapter 1).
The general qualification of military use of force as being senseless is based on the unquestionable fact that almost inevitably humans, i.e. combatants who are involved in combat, as well as non-combatants who are not involved, are harmed, wounded, mutilated and killed. This is unquestionably true. Of course, such a point of view does not reveal the question of the legitimacy of military actions, particularly in regard to whether a military actor is pursuing an aggression and thus violating international law, or whether he is pursuing individual or collective self-defense in accordance with international law. In addition, such a statement appears to be peculiarly unhistorical and at the same time apolitical, precisely in view of the devastating German military and war history: In view of the political result achieved in the end, the military defeat of the disastrous German militarism and also of the aggressive Japanese imperialism cannot be considered as „nonsensical”.
If the accusation of absurdity is also based on the actual or supposed ineffectiveness of real militarist actions, this ironically carries the risk of focusing and narrowing the perception of the problem on its one-sided military dimension. This must be avoided; otherwise the political or economic perspective of the conflict is taken out of account. The problem can be exemplarily illustrated by the historical discussion between different military-strategic thinkers in Germany. One of them recruited from the adepts of the General Field Marshal Count Alfred von Schlieffen (1833–1913), the other from the followers of General Carl von Clausewitz (1780–1831). Ideally, their perceptions can be summed up as follows: Schlieffen, as a pure craftsman of war2), or according to the terminology of Clausewitz, as a grammarian of war3), thought exclusively in the narrow limits of applied military strategy. He rejected the primacy of politics over war, just as Wilhelm II had expressed that motif with the slogan: „In war, politics keep their mouths shut until strategy permits them to speak again.”4) Schlieffen’s military operations planning took place under purely military considerations, without consulting any political authorities5). He is regarded as the „prophet of the battle of annihilation,”6) to him the „total destruction of the hostile forces”7) appeared to be „always the most commanding of all purposes pursued in war”8). In order to realize, in his own view, the only goal of war9), Schlieffen developed his dogmatic doctrine of encirclement and decisive battle (battle of annihilation)10). Typical in this context, was his assertion that the attack for the purpose of encirclement, and destroying of the hostile army was the only promising way of conducting military operations, while breakthrough or defense could not be successful11). The consequence was a fatal cult of the offensive12). As a result of this, among the generations of German general staff officers who had been influenced by the doctrine of Schlieffen, those typical military fallacies, manifested in the belief that „the victory on the battlefield coincided with the winning of the war” 13). Undoubtedly, Schlieffen presented „the prototype of a new kind of apolitical soldier, who alone lives his profession and is not interested in anything outside his narrow technical faculty.” 14)
In sharp contrast to Schlieffen, the strategist and military philosopher Clausewitz was a „logician of war” 15). Hardly any fact proves this more impressively than his famous dictum which states accordingly „that war is not merely a political act, but also a real political instrument, a continuation of political commerce, a carrying out of the same by other means.” 16) He added: „This principle makes the whole history of war understandable, without it everything is full of the greatest absurdity.” 17)
Accordingly, the primacy of politics against military applies categorically and unrestrictedly, „for politics has produced war; it is the intelligence, the war is merely the instrument, and not (the) reverse” 18) This means that „there cannot be a purely military assessment of a strategic question and no purely military plan for its solution.” 19) Political action and military operations are inextricably interwoven. Therefore, for the strategist, the first and most important question is that of the actual objective of the military use of force or war, that is, all military measures and efforts have to be directed toward this goal 20). For Clausewitz the overarching final purpose of every strategy and every military action is always peace. This peace is, of course, characterized by the fact that „one’s will is forced upon the enemy,” 21) and his disarmament is necessary for this purpose as „the real goal of warfare.” 22) War must be regarded as a political act, as „a true instrument whose use is in one hand. This hand is embodied by politics. The urgency of the question to be solved determines the extent of the use of force.” 23) According to Clausewitz’s conception, there can be wars „where the goal is even a trifle, a mere threat, an armed negotiation or, in cases of alliances, a pseudo action. It would be quite aphilosophical to maintain that these wars did not affect the art of war any more. As soon as the art of war is compelled to concede that there can be wars, which do not aim at the extreme, the defeat and annihilation of the enemy, it must also descend to all possible grades which may demand the interest of politics. The task and the right of the warlike art of politics are to be prevented chiefly from the fact that politics demanded things which are contrary to the nature of war, that they should make mistakes out of ignorance of the effect of the instrument in their use.” 24) Therefore, for Clausewitz there is a very differentiated spectrum of both the conflict mode, which can range from a state of merely armed mutual observation to the military destruction of the adversary 25), as well as options of military operations, and when analyzing this he comes characteristically to the conclusion that not the attack, but, on the contrary, defense is the strongest form of war 26). In contrast to the attack, the aim of which is the conquest, defense means safeguard and protection.
With regard to the question of the absurdity or seriousness of military action against the IS follows from the preceding comparison of the two disparate military schools of thought that a criticism based on a diagnose that a success of the military operations against IS, as conducted by the coalition installed by the US, is not recognizable or totally inadequate, has its shortcomings. Also a criticism pointing out that the fact that IS is still in existence demonstrates the absurdity of the military application of force is too shortsighted and bears the danger to argument in the sense of the militaristically constricted thought patterns of the SchlieffenSchool. In contrast for a critical assessment of the actual conflict it seems to be necessary to take Clausewitz’s differentiated approach into consideration. That is one has to take into account the overarching geo-strategic and geo-economic determinants in the Syrian-Iraqi war zone by subsuming the military events under the political realm. In the following, the phenomenon of the »Islamic State (IS)« is to be examined as a decisive actor of violence and as an addressee of military counter-violence.
The »Islamic State (IS)« – terrorist organization, quasi-state or caliphate?
The »Islamic State (IS)« is a union of Sunni Muslims with tens of thousands of members who have been classified as terrorist groups by the Security Council of the United Nations in its resolution SC/11495 of July 28, 2014. The terrorist organization controlled, or still controls large areas in Iraqand Syria, where it operates as an „islamist” 27) or „jihadist state project” 28) or „state building project” 29), respectively, declared as a „caliphate”. In addition, it is active in various other countries, including Libya, where it launched an „emirate” in 2015, as well as in Nigeria,Afghanistan,Central Asia, etc., and campaigns for fighters for its worldwide war operations.
As of 2004, the terrorist organization was listed under »al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI)«, from 2007 as »Islamic State of Iraq (ISI)«, from 2011 to June 2014 as »Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS)«, and further as »Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) « and as well the transcribed Arabic acronym »Da’esh«.
After the military conquest of a contiguous area in the east of Syriaand in the northwest of Iraqwith the metropolis of Mosulthe terror organization announced on June 29, 2014 the establishment of a caliphate with Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as „Caliph Ibrahim – commander of the devout Muslim”. He is believed to have been born near Samarrain Iraqas Ibrahim al-Badri. He is an Islamic scholar, but never being theologically noticeable, who is said to have visited Islam seminars in Samarraand Baghdadand to hold the diploma of an Islamic College in Samarra 30). He is supposed of having passed one or two years in the US prison Camp Bucca in southern Iraq 31) where there were radical jihadists, military and intelligence officers merged in common cell blocks, from 2004 including no fewer than 17 of the 25 members of the future top leadership squad of IS, and where experienced soldiers of the Iraqi army were recruited for the battle of IS. The name Abu Bakr chosen by al-Badri is symbolical because Abu Bakr was one of the first followers of the Prophet Muhammad, after his death he became Caliph, i. e. successor, and ruled over the community of the devout believers. The addition of al-Baghdadi in turn refers to the seat of the caliphate at times of the Abbasids who founded an Islamic Empire. The symbolism of this name refers to the claim of IS to reconnect to the tradition of earlier eras, now being the guardian of the true faith and at the same time to form the spiritual centre of the Islamic world. „The idea of caliphate was a clever move also because it gave radicalized Sunni much more room for identification as al-Qaeda. … al-Qaeda was yesterday, IS is the branding of today and tomorrow.” 32)
The cradle of IS was in Mesopotamia, which, in 2003, by a coalition of complacent vassals under the leadership of the USA, had been inflicted with a war of aggression, violating human rights. The destruction of the Iraqi army was carried out with lightning speed and the implemented occupation policy of immeasurable stupidity, ignorance, and unscrupulousness towards the Iraqi people and its culture with the result of the dismantling of the Iraqi army and the destruction of all party- and state structures, resulted in the shortest possible time in a massive uprising against the occupation regime which continued from 2003 to 2011. It was supported mainly by the Sunnis, who were previously in power under Saddam Hussein, with radical Islamists quickly setting the tone. As of June 2003, a combat group of about 2,000 men under the leadership of the Jordanian Abu Musab Az-Zarqawi, known as the „Community for Tauhīd and Jihad” (JTJ), participated in the resistance of Sunni groups to the US occupation regime in Iraq. The terrorist group was initially active mainly in the Anbar province, Divala and Baghdad, by use of bomb attacks, hostages and assassinations preferred against Iraqi policemen, soldiers, and especially against Shiites 33). In October 2004, this group joined al-Qaeda and changed its name in „Organization of Jihad’s Base inMesopotamia”, usually referred to as „al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI)”.
The original birthplace of the terrorist parent company itself was nota bene in the Hindu Kush, where decades before in the Soviet-Afghan war it had been „part of a covert CIA operation, which had already been prepared under the Carter administration, and which aimed at the funding and active support of Islamic fighting groups who later became known as al-Qaeda.” 34) It was no less than the then US Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton, who years later in an interview on November 7, 2010 in Melbourne, Australia ‘attended’ by War Secretary Robert Gates in the broadcast »ABC’s Nightline«, had conceded frankly that it had been the US itself, that had brought Osama bin Laden and his terrorist group into this world. Literally she placed on record: „Part of what we are fighting against right now, the United States created. We created the Mujahidin force against the Soviet Union. We trained them, we equipped them, we funded them, including somebody named Osama bin Laden.” 35)
In October 2006, after Iraqi branch leader az-Zarqawi was killed by a targeted air strike from US forces in June 2006, AQI proclaimed, after the inclusion of several smaller groups of resistance, the successor organization »Islamic State in Iraq (ISI)«. The terrorist organization was financed primarily by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and other Gulf monarchies 36). Due to their ruthless brutal approach, combined with devastating massacres, and the creation of powerful tribal militias on the basis of adventurously high payments given by the US occupying forces, ISI got into an existential crisis by the end of 2010 37). In May 2010, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi took over the leadership of the thinned out ISI cells. During the so-called „Arab Spring”, many former commanders of the Iraqi armed forces of Saddam Hussein joined the ISI as of 2011, as a result of which it regained its combat power. In addition, „the personnel composition became increasingly international by means of Saudi funding and recruitment” 38). As a result, the ISI continued its fight against the Shiites in Iraq and the reigning government of Nuri al-Maliki. „When Syrian armed resistance against Assad gained speed, al-Baghdadi founded the terrorist organization »Jabhat al-Nusra« there at the end of 2011 under the leadership of Syrian Abu Mohammad al-Julani. … The proximity to the ISI and to al-Qaeda was initially concealed, for good reason: al-Qaeda and the Iraqi ISI were not popular among the Syrians.” 39) By 2013, »Jabhat al-Nusra« had grown to the most powerful guerrilla group in the Syrian civil war. After that, al-Baghdadi, in April 2013, decided to clarify that »Jabhat al-Nusra« was basically nothing but an offshoot of his ISI and demanded al-Julani to publicly pledge allegiance to him, which he refused. Instead he declared his allegiance to Ayman al-Zawahiri, who following the assassination of Osama bin Laden, became successor in the leadership of al-Qaeda. The latter demanded al-Baghdadi to continue keeping ISI and the Syrian Jabhat al-Nusra, which is operating in Iraq, separate, which the latter, however, rejected. Al-Baghdadi was officially expelled from al-Qaeda by al-Zawahiri in January 2014, which is why he broke with al-Qaeda in return and declared al-Julani the apostate. „More than half of the Nusra fighters then left al-Julani, defected to al-Baghdadi, and pledged allegiance to him.” 40) As a result, the northeast of Syria, Raqqa, and the Euphrates Valley were added to the areas of Iraq controlled by al-Baghdadi, who called its terrorist organization »Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS)«, and then »Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)«, until finally, with the proclamation of the caliphate on June 29, 2014, after the conquest of Mosul, was only called IS.
The »Islamic State« is not simply a terrorist militia. This characterization, which is widespread in the media, is a triviality 41). In fact, we are dealing with a ruling organization, which at times controlled about a third of Syria and Iraq. Up to eight million people live there, and the IS, the so-called caliphate, de facto functions as a state authority 42). There are tens of thousands of administrative staff available to the administration, as well as lawyers, judges, engineers and doctors 43). The IS handles in a barbaric, totalitarian way, its own judicial system, which is oriented to the most extreme Islamic jurisprudence, it raises taxes, recruits soldiers, promotes and exports oil. It also maintains the supply of markets and the power supply. In mid-November 2014, the IS announced the introduction of its own currency based on gold and silver coins. All nine IS provinces have their own budget, with a financial adjustment between them for the benefit of the poorer regions 44). A separate social system has also been established for the families of killed or imprisoned fighters, there are soup kitchens for the poor and the needy. In the areas controlled by the IS, the schools are open, for the school, the IS publishes its own school books 45) and university life is continuing.
In contrast to other state-building projects, however, the »Islamic State« does not seek diplomatic approval or membership in the United Nations, because it simply rejects the international state system 46). Nevertheless, the question of the statehood of the IS is not insignificant concerning the legitimacy of its combating by military force in the framework of the United Nations Charter as well as of international humanitarian law, since these regulations presuppose, in case of an international, armed conflict, that the war parties in question involve states which are subjects to international law – and the latter is precisely not applicable to any criminal or terrorist organizations 47).
On the IS’ role and function as part of the US geo-strategy
At this point, a description of the geostrategic and geo-economic essentials of US policy in the international system, as they emerge in Halford Mackinder’s „Heartland Theory” 48) or Alfred Thayer Mahan’s „Influence of Sea Power upon History” 49), for instance, would be necessary, but would be beyond the constraints. Therefore, the focus should be confined to the Middle East region 50). As already stated, the emergence of the »Islamic State« can be attributed directly to the US war of aggression against Iraq in 2003. Already in the planning phase of this international law crime, the then US Vice President Dick Cheney expressed that it was about more than merely about Saddam Hussein’s head, but that he wanted „to use the end of Saddam’s regime as a platform for wider reforms in the region” 51). Then as of 2005 under the caption „Redirection” 52) the former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spoke of „the spreading of creative chaos in the region ...], to advance the plan for a New Middle East by President Bush” 53). In January 2005, Rice pointed out before the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Senate, „that there is ‘a new strategic alignment in the Middle East,’ separating ‘reformers’ and ‘extremists’; she pointed to the Sunni states as centers of moderation, and said that Iran, Syria and Hezbollah were ‘on the other side of that divide.’[ ...] Iran and Syria, she said, ‘have made their choice and their choice is to destabilize.’” 54) In its substance this new strategic alignment for the region aimed to split up and enrage the local religious groups, the Sunnis and the Shiites, against each other more than it already was the case for historical reasons. The purpose of this was to reach the maximum benefit for the US interests out of this sectarian conflict. In 2008, a research report created for the army of the United States by the think tank »RAND Corporation« confirmed again this perfidious strategy. It recommended that the United States „could also choose to capitalize on the ‘Sustained Shia-Sunni Conflict’ trajectory by taking the side of the conservative Sunni regime against Shiite empowerment movements in the Muslim world.” 55) In order to contain Iran’s power and influence in the Gulf region, „US leaders could decide to concentrate, in the short term, on shoring up the traditional Sunni regimes in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Pakistan as a way of containing Iranian power and influence in the Middle East and Persian Gulf.” 56)
For the practical implementation of the redirection strategy the leadership of American intelligence misused Islamist and Salafi groups of various persuasions by using financial resources of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States working on a fragmentation of the State in Iraq and on a civil war in Syria 57). So the aforementioned RAND report pointed out that at that time already „in Iraq such a strategy is being used at the tactical level, as the United States [...] forms temporary alliances with nationalist insurgent groups [...] by exploiting the common threat that al-Qaeda [...] poses [...] and providing carrots in the form of weapons and cash.” 58)
In 2006, the military analyst and Lieutenant Colonel of the US Army Ralph Peters described exemplarily in the »Armed Forces Journal« under the characteristic title „Blood borders”, how the world has to envision this realignment policy à la US for the region of the „Greater Middle East” 59). For an area „between the Bosporus and the Indus”, he drew completely new borders for states to be defined according to the criterion of ethnic and religious group affiliation. A ruthless, solely violence-based, and purely self-serving analysis forms the basis of his spooky looking outline: „Correcting borders to reflect the will of the people may be impossible. For now. But given time – and the inevitable attendant bloodshed – new and natural borders will emerge. Babylon has fallen more than once. Meanwhile, our men and women in uniform will continue to fight for security from terrorism, for the prospect of democracy and for access to oil supplies in a region that is destined to fight itself. The current human divisions and forced unions between Ankara and Karachi, taken together with the region’s self-inflicted woes, form as perfect a breeding ground for religious extremism, a culture of blame and the recruitment of terrorists as anyone could design. Where men and women look ruefully at their borders, they look enthusiastically for enemies. From the world’s oversupply of terrorists to its paucity of energy supplies, the current deformations of the Middle East promise a worsening, not an improving situation. In a region where only the worst aspects of nationalism ever took hold and where the most debased aspects of religion threaten to dominate a disappointed faith, the US, its allies and, above all, our armed forces can look for crises without end.” 60)
These above-mentioned considerations are anything but a mere fiction. A year later, the four-star general and former NATO Supreme Commander General Wesley Clark confirmed this, revealing that already in 1991 the former Pentagon Undersecretary Paul Wolfowitz informed him during a personal meeting that the US harbored war plans to topple „the Soviet clientele regime” in Syria, Iran and Iraq 61). A few weeks after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, a general from the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) showed him a memorandum of the former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, outlining the global war plans of the United States of America. According to Clark, his fellow told him: „This is a memo that describes how we’re going to take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and finishing off, Iran.” On a meeting of the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, the retired general and Vietnam veteran summed up: „Our country had fallen into the hands of a group of men, Paul Wolfowitz, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and others, who wanted to destabilize the Middle East, plunge it into chaos and bring it under our control” 62). And these government criminals do not back off from supporting terrorism, because so Clark: „[...] we are supporting terrorist groups, apparently, who are infiltrating and blowing up things inside Iraq – Iran. And if we’re not doing it, let’s put it this way: we’re probably cognizant of it and encouraging it.” 63)
Early last year the former four-star general came out again with a statement, remarkable for an insider of the top military establishment, when he put on record, that ISIS is created and funded by the „closest allies” of the US 64). Literally he said: „ISIS got started through funding from our friends and allies. People will tell you in the region that if you want somebody who will fight to the death against Hezbollah, you don’t put out a recruiting poster saying ‘sign up for us, we’re gonna make a better world.’ You go after zealots and you go after these religious fundamentalists. That’s who fights Hezbollah. It’s like a Frankenstein.” 65) It may remain an open question, whether Wesley Clark was influenced in his assessment by an „Information Report” of the US Military Intelligence DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency) 66) of August 12, 2012. On the basis of that report at this time it is, however, clear that the US Administration had to be clearly aware, of where the development was heading to in the theatre of operations in north-eastern Syria and northwestern Iraq 67). The central findings of the DIA were as follows 68):
- „The Salafist, the Muslim Brotherhood, and AQI are the major forces driving the insurgency inSyria.”
- „AQI supported the Syrian opposition from the beginning.”
- „AQI conducted a number of operations in several Syrian cities under the name of Jaish al Nusra (victorious army), one of its affiliates.”
- „Internally, events are taking a clear sectarian direction.”
- „If the situation unravels, there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist Principality in eastern Syria (Hasaka and Der Zor), and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion (Iraq and Iran).”
- „This creates the ideal atmosphere for AQI to return to its old pockets in Mosuland Ramadi [...] ISI could also declare Islamic State through its union with other terrorist organizations in Iraqand Syria, [...]”
While up to the present day, in the Western media it is nattered about the allegedly peaceful national uprising in Syria merely inspired by the pursuit of freedom and democracy, this intelligence document illustrates only too clearly that in truth it was about something completely different: that is to say a regime change in Damascus, from the very beginning violently staged, by means of terrorist-acting Islamist extremist groups 69). The fact that for this purpose the West and its allies used any means is proved by a revealing document from Riyadh which was presumably written at the beginning of 2012 70). In view of the increased survival prospects of the Assad government after Russian intervention, Saudi Arabia as one of the main warders of the war against Syria feared that „the situation will reach a high degree of danger for the Kingdom, which must seek by all means available and all possible ways to overthrow the current regime in Syria” 71). The fact that exactly this happened, is testified shortly afterwards by the DIA report already mentioned, in which „US intelligence predicted the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS), but instead of clearly delineating the group as an enemy, the report envisions the terror group as a US strategic asset” 72) Which in fact meant that the US (and its Western allies) hoped for the establishment of a Salafist territory in East Syria 73). A formation of a Sunni state was also mentioned by John Bolton, former US ambassador to the United Nations and member of »Project of a New American Century (PNAC)« and one of the architects of the Second Gulf War, when he demanded: „I think our objective should be a new Sunni state out of the western part of Iraq, the eastern part of Syria run by moderates or at least authoritarians who are not radical Islamists. What’s left of the state of Iraq, as of right now, is simply a satellite of the Ayatollahs in Tehran. It’s not anything we should try to aid.” 74)
In view of these facts, it is hardly surprising that the former DIA Chief Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, who had previously served as the Director of the News Section of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), revealed that „the Obama administration supported Islamic terrorists, including al-Qaeda, in the rebellion against the Syrian regime. ‘I don’t know that they turned a blind eye, I think it’s a decision,’ the former DIA chief said. ‘I think it was a willful decision’.” 75) This deliberate aid to Islamic terrorists fighting Bashar al-Assad was a decisive factor in the rise of the IS 76). Among the numerous US officials who admitted that „Obama’s so-called anti-ISIS coalition helped create, arm, and fund ISIS” 77), Flynn was the highest-ranking person discussing in public the role which the United States played in bringing about the brutal terrorist group that subsequently slaughtered the Christians and other minorities in the Middle East. However, despite all warnings, the White House continued to provide material support in the form of „weapons, PR, communications, funding, training, international legitimacy, and more” 78) to those formations officially listed as terrorist organizations.
The remarks made by Joe Biden during a speech given at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government on 2 October, 2014, were spectacular and eye-opening at the same time 79). Biden – in a move that diametrically opposed the views of his President Obama – conceded that there were no such things as „moderate” rebels in Syria and that the anti-IS coalition supplied ISIS with weapons. „And what my constant cry was that our biggest problem is our allies – our allies in the region were our largest problem in Syria. The Turks were great friends […] the Saudis, the Emiratis, etc. What were they doing? They were so determined to take down Assad and essentially have a proxy Sunni-Shia war, what did they do? They poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens, thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad except that the people who were being supplied were al-Nusra – and al-Qaeda and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world.” 80) And from those terrorist groups,ISIS recruited for itself, Biden added.
The cunning way in which the terror monster – named „Frankenstein” by Wesley Clark – was systematically brought to life, was first described by renowned investigative journalist Seymour Hersh for the »London Review of Books« 81). There, he details how the US cooperated intensively with Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, in fact „creating what the CIA calls a ‘rat line’, a back channel highway into Syria.” 82) This so-called „rat line” was authorized by the Obama administration at the beginning of 2012 and „was used to funnel weapons and ammunition from Libya via southern Turkey and across the Syrian border to the opposition.” 83) It bore no significance whatsoever that „[m]any of those in Syria who ultimately received the weapons were jihadists, some of them affiliated with al-Qaeda. It pertained to the rat line.” 84) According to the concluded agreements, „funding came from Turkey, as well as Saudi Arabia and Qatar; the CIA, with the support of MI6, was responsible for getting arms from Gaddafi’s arsenals into Syria. Retired American soldiers, who didn’t always know who was really employing them, were hired to manage procurement and shipping. The operation was run by David Petraeus, the CIA director […].“ 85)
Further „Information Reports” by military intelligence service DIA indicate that the USgovernment had precise information regarding the make-up of the weapon arsenal supplied to their terrorist allies. A report dated September 16, 2012 states, that „they have SA-7 and SA-23/4 MANPADS as well as unidentified missiles over two meters in length.” 86) Another report from October 5, 2012 mentions, that „the weapons shipped from Syria during late August 2012 were Sniper rifles, RPG’s and 125mm and 155mm howitzers missiles. The numbers for each weapon were estimated to be: 500 Sniper rifles, 100 RPG launchers with 300 total rounds, and approximately 400 howitzers missiles (200 ea – 125mm and 200 ea – 155 mm).” 87) Two years later, in the summer of 2014, Obama’s National Security Advisor Susan Rice confirmed, that the US continued to deliver weapons to Syrian rebel groups 88). To sum up, facing the extent to which „important Arabic allies” directly support ISIS and a never ending stream of fighters and weapons of the imploding „moderate” rebel troops supported by the US desert for ISIS […], it is but a small step to the realization that US aircraft movements into ISIS territory as well as those of the coalition could be a hint toward a hidden supply line. And this is exactly what high-ranking Iraqi sources have been claiming since the end of 2014 and the beginning of 2015.” 89)
That the policy of „redirection”, that is the reorganization of the Greater Middle East region as well as the geostrategic calculations so far discussed, is also based on massive geo-economic interests is clearly demonstrated by an article, revealingly entitled „Pipeline Politics in Syria – You Can’t Understand the Conflict Without Talking About Natural Gas” 90), which has been published by Rob Taylor, significantly again in the »Armed Forces Journal«. The author states quite correctly: „Any review of the current conflict in Syria that neglects the geopolitical economics of the region is incomplete.” 91) Specifically, it is about the fact that the war conflict in Syria and Iraq is essentially characterized by the diametrically opposed interests of the advocates of two competing pipeline projects 92). The latter are intended to serve the purpose of obtaining the world’s largest natural gas reserves, namely, the gas field South Pars/North Dome, which is located at the bottom of the Persian Gulf and is owned partly byIran, partly byQatar. Both countries had begun to extract oil in 1989. In 2009,Qatar had proposed to build a pipeline that would bring natural gas through Saudi Arabia,Jordan and Syria toTurkey and then would be connected to the already existing Nabucco pipeline, which would allow the gas to flow to Austria. It was necessary to reduce high production and shipping costs and to makeQatar gas more competitive on the European market. On the other hand, of course, the states over whose territory the pipeline would lead could expect generous transit charges. The Western industrial countries supported this project with the intention of weakeningRussia’s position in the energy sector and reducing the European dependence on Russian gas. In light of this,Moscow supported a competing project launched byIran, which involved a pipeline in which Iranian gas was to be pumped throughIraq andSyria to Latakia and further toEurope. In a deal withIran and their close allySyria, the Russians apparently saw greater opportunities to influence prices, but also to marketing of resources in the Caspian Sea andCentral Asia. In consultation withRussia, the Syrian president rejected theQatar pipeline and entered into the deal withIran – whereby he also gave the start signal for the attempt to bring him down. When, in July 2011, a 10 billion dollar project was announced for a pipeline fromIran throughIraq andSyria, the so-called „Arab Spring” had already plunged theMiddle East into chaos. However, in July 2012, the agreement on theIran pipeline was signed.
It is clear that Qatar had already begun financing an armed insurrection in 2011 and, only by 2013, had sent some 3 billion dollars to various Islamist fighting brigades to overthrow Assad, in addition „it even offered a $ 50,000 reward to defectors from the Syrian regime and their families and hosts a base from which the CIA has trained Syrian rebels.” 93) Moreover, the Qatari TV channel »Al-Jazeera« spread the voices of the Syrian opposition. In all these activities at least theUK, theUSA,France andTurkey were inaugurated and supported them. Also fromSaudi Arabia large sums flowed into building up armed units. The strategy was to destabilize Syria by terror in order to achieve a regime change. The Saudis have long been making plans for the overthrow of Assad because they wanted to contain the Iranian-Shiite influence in the region and dismantle the Tehran-Damascus-Hezbollah axis. From the outset, also the NATO country Turkey played a key role.
It can be assumed that President Erdogan has calculated with high revenue from transit pipelines through Turkey and that he hoped to reduce the dependency on Russian energy supplies. This may be one of the reasons why he is almost fanatically in favor of the overturn of the Assad government. Since 2011, Turkey has been a transit country and transport hub, through which weapons and chemical agents for numerous chemical substances were launched into Syria. They were used by terrorist militias such as the al-Nusra front, especially against the defenseless civilian population 94), as well as for combatants. Without the logistical base provided by Turkey, the otherwise fully encircled caliphate could not exist under any circumstances. The key finding from the analysis of the geo-economic factors led the above-mentioned US Major Taylor to the conclusion: „Viewed through a geopolitical and economic lens, the conflict in Syria is not a civil war, but the result of larger international players positioning themselves on the geo-political chessboard in preparation for the opening of the pipeline in 2016. […] Reports that disregard the pipeline and its geopolitical implications ignore the elephant in the room.” 95)
Implications for the military combating of IS
In view of the rapid expansion of the IS occupied areas, which even threatened the Iraqi capital Baghdadin the summer of 2014, the USwas forced to fly air strikes against IS units from August onwards and subsequently established an international alliance against the IS on September 5, 2014 during the NATO summit in Welsh Newport 96). The founding members were: Germany, Great Britain, France, Italy, Poland, Denmark, Australia, Canada, Turkey and the United States of America. A few days later, on September 10, 2014, US President Barack Obama in a speech to the nation presented his future strategy against IS, which essentially comprises four points 97):
- A systematic air warfare campaign against IS targets in both Iraq and Syria.
- Support in form of training, reconnaissance and equipment by US military advisors for Iraqi and Kurdish troops, as well as for opposition groups in Syria, who should also fight against the Assad regime and against IS forces. US soldiers were not allowed to land on the ground.
- Numerous non-military counterterrorism measures to prevent IS attacks, including the interruption of financing for terrorist operations and the prevention of the leakage of foreign terrorists into the war zone.
- Reinforcement of humanitarian aid to victims of IS terrorism and refugees.
But in August 2014, one of the most ardent warmongers in Germany, »Zeit« editor-in-chief Josef Joffe, had complained: „Obama fights halfheartedly.” 98) Within a short time, the ineffectiveness of the military action against IS became apparent and lead to a fierce debate about the lukewarm air strikes of the then US President 99). On October 7, 2014 »Washington Post« was criticizing „that the US air campaign is failing to achieve the minimal aim of stopping the expansion of the Islamic State – much less ‘degrading’ and ‘destroying’ it.” 100) At the same time, military strategic analysis of the situation suggested that the „Islamic terrorists [...] had made a mistake when they moved from al-Qaeda to the ‘Islamic State’” and thus abandoned the classic advantages of ‘asymmetric warfare’. Previously, they attacked out of nowhere. The IS now has a capital in Raqqa. They fight in larger units. They have heavy weapons, depots and supply lines. This offers military targets. The local anchorage makes the IS vulnerable. This creates an asymmetry in favor of the West, which can use its best weapons. But they don’t do it.” 101) Since: „In the air war against the IS 15 attacks are flown daily in Syria and Iraq. On the other hand, 50 attacks were flown in the 2011 NATO-campaign against Libya. The average in Afghanistan 2001 was 85 per day, in the Iraq war 800. That means: The Saudis and Americans do not want it really. But war should only be started if one also wants to win.” 102) The conclusion from this was: „As long as the West does not take advantage of its strength, the IS will be able to withstand. But this does not invalidate the principle: if terrorist acts like a state, they sacrifice their unique strength.” 103) Nevertheless, the war against the IS remained purely „cosmetic”, as the Deputy Foreign Minister of Syria, Fayssal Mikdad, rightly noted sarcastically 104). Taking into consideration the disparate and partly completely diametrical interests of the actors involved in the anti-IS coalition, the ineffectiveness of the military actions against IS were not really surprising. Indeed the US, Europe, Russia, Iran, Turkey and the Gulf States were all ready to fight against IS. „But a coalition of the willing needs a leading power that takes the greatest burden. And Obama’s US will no longer bear this burden. Neither the Europeans nor the US want to deploy any ground forces. Russia and Iran mainly want to save Syrian dictator Assad. Jordan and Saudi Arabia are flying attacks, nothing more. The idea that Sunni armies would clear up in Iraq and Syria as the West’s accomplices is as real as hoping for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.” 105) However, there would be an option that the West and its allies, of course, would avoid like the plague: „In order to militarily counteract the ‘Islamic State’ effectively, i.e. with local ground troops, the Syrian army, which has long been acting as a militia, would be needed. The Syrian army solely is able to fight its guerrilla associations. [...] At the same time, targeting IS and Damascus is absurd.” 106) It remains to be seen whether and to what extent the re-conquest ofMosul and Raqqa, carried out by Iraqi government forces, Kurdish militia and Iranian associations will be a lasting success.
On the other hand, there are by no means insignificant reasons which give rise to fundamental doubts as to whether a complete elimination of the »Islamic State« would be at all useful and advisable in the light of the geostrategic and geo-economic considerations already discussed. On the one hand, this is about the two competing gas pipeline projects. In this regard, the following is true: „The successes against IS is against these interests, as Assad, who has been massively kept on the run through IS, would be strengthened in his position and the pipeline project thus recede into the distance” 107) What this means is, that the West would also like to see realized the plannedQatar pipeline. Regarding the competitive project of an Iranian pipeline, it is true that the new »Islamic State«, described by John Bolton as a desirable one, is acting as a locking bolt, but only as long as it exists.
A strategic analysis by the director of the »Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies«, Professor Efraim Inbar, who was published in August 2016 titled „The Destruction of Islamic State is a Strategic Mistake” 108), reads strikingly. The author, professor emeritus of the Institute for Political Studies at Bar-Ilan University and Fellow of the Middle East Forum, counts quite laconically the reasons for the containment of »Islamic State«, but not its elimination: „The West should seek the further weakening of Islamic State, but not its destruction. A weak but functioning IS can undermine the appeal of the caliphate among radical Muslims; keep bad actors focused on one another rather than on Western targets; and hamper Iran’s quest for regional hegemony.” 109) An essential advantage of his continued existence is that the „IS is a magnet for radicalized Muslims in countries throughout the world. These volunteers are easier targets to identify, saving intelligence work.” 110) It was true that the IS fighters acquire destructive skills on the battlefields, „but some of them acquire shaheed status while still away – a blessing for their home countries. If IS is fully defeated, more of these people are likely to come home and cause trouble.” 111) Moreover, it was extremely unwise to save the Assad regime by the removal of the IS, and to strengthen actors such as Russia and Iran, including Hezbollah. Strategic farsightedness was necessary: „The Western distaste for IS brutality and immorality should not obfuscate strategic clarity. IS are truly bad guys, but few of their opponents are much better. Allowing bad guys to kill bad guys sounds very cynical, but it is useful and even moral to do so if it keeps the bad guys busy and less able to harm the good guys. The Hobbesian reality of the Middle East does not always present a neat moral choice.” 112)
At this point at the latest, it should be clear that the question raised at the outset on the meaning and nonsense of a military action against the IS cannot be answered sweepingly. By no means, it is simply enough to record the events on the battlefield and to reduce this to its military dimension in the sense of a Schlieffen. For what happens on the battlefield only provides a shallow appearance. In Clausewitz’ sense, the „big” policy remains crucial, i.e. the respective geostrategic and geo-economic interests of the actors. Only if we understand war as a political act the way described, the sense or nonsense of the use of force can be deduced. Based on this premise the military action of the numerous parties to the conflict in the Syrian-Iraqi war theatre seems to make more sense than the world would care for, not least because the warlords still rather seek for victory than for peace. Less Schlieffen and more Clausewitz should therefore be the maxim.
Dipl. Päd. Jürgen Rose is a retired Lieutenant Colonel of the German Air Force and holds a diploma in pedagogics; he is board member of the “Darmstadt Signal”, an association of critical soldiers of the German Bundeswehr.
1) cf. Perthes, Volker: Viel mehr als eine Terrormiliz (Much more than a terrorist militia), in: Süddeutsche Zeitung, September 25, 2014; http://www.sueddeutsche.de/politik/kampf-gegen-is-vielmehr-als-eine-terrormiliz-1.2144142 as well as Trechsel, Anna (interviewer): Der Islamische Staat verbreitet in Syrien und im Irak Tod und Verwüstung. Ihn als Terrororganisation zu bezeichnen, greife zu kurz, sagt der Nahost-Experte Volker Perthes. „Das ist ein Staatsbildungsprojekt” (The Islamic state is spreading death and devastation in Syria and Iraq. To call it a terrorist organisation is too short, says the Middle East expert Volker Perthes. „This is a state building project”), in: Neue Zürcher Zeitung, August 31, 2014; http://www.nzz.ch/international/das-ist-ein-staatsbildungsprojekt-1.18374003.
2) cf. Wallach, Jehuda Lothar: Das Dogma der Vernichtungsschlacht. Die Lehren von Clausewitz und Schlieffen und ihre Wirkung in zwei Weltkriegen (The Dogma of the Battle of Annihilation. The Theories of Clausewitz and Schlieffen and Their Impact on the German Conduct of Two World Wars), München 1970, p. 123.
3) cf. ibid., p. 111.
4) Quoted from ibid., p. 67.
5) Quoted from ibid., p. 113.
6) ibid., p. 62.
7) ibid., p. 75.
8) ibid., p. 110.
9) cf. ibid., p. 114.
10) cf. ibid., p. 112.
11) cf. ibid., p. 115.
12) cf. ibid., p. 116.
13) ibid., p. 114.
14) ibid., p. 114.
15) cf. ibid., p. 111.
16) Quoted from ibid., p. 29.
17) Quoted from ibid., p. 111.
18) Quoted from ibid., p. 32.
19) ibid., p. 111.
20) cf. ibid., p. 112.
21) cf. ibid., p. 36.
22) cf. ibid., p. 36.
23) ibid., p. 112.
24) Quoted from ibid., pp. 112.
25) cf. ibid., p. 31.
26) cf. ibid., pp. 50 as well as p. 120.
27) Lüders, Michael: Wer den Wind sät. Was westliche Politik im Orient anrichtet (Who sows the wind. What Western politics does in the Orient), München 2015, p. 89.
28) ibid., p. 108.
29) Perthes, Volker: loc. cit.; cf. Trechsel, Anna (interviewer): loc. cit.
30) cf. Lüders, Michael: loc.cit., p. 89.
31) cf. Anderson, Tim: Der schmutzige Krieg in Syrien (The dirty war inSyria), Marburg 2016, p. 216.
32) Lüders, Michael: loc.cit., p. 90.
33) Todenhöfer, Jürgen: Inside IS – 10 Tage im ›Islamischen Staat‹ (Ten days within the ›Islamic State‹), München 2015, p. 10.
34) Chossudovsky, Michel: 9/11 ANALYSIS: From Ronald Reagan and the Soviet-Afghan War to George W. Bush and September 11, 2001, Global Research, Montréal (Québec), September 9, 2010; http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=20958.
35) Clinton, Hillary Rodham: Interview with Cynthia McFadden of ABC’s Nightline, Grand Hyatt Hotel Melbourne, Australia, November 7, 2010; https://2009-2017.state.gov/secretary/20092013clinton/rm/2010/11/150868.htm.
36) cf. Anderson, Tim: loc. cit. pp. 19.
37) cf. Todenhöfer, Jürgen: loc. cit. pp. 12.
38) cf. Anderson, Tim: loc. cit. p. 20.
39) cf. Todenhöfer, Jürgen: loc. cit., p. 14.
40) Todenhöfer, Jürgen: loc. cit., p. 16.
41) cf. Perthes, Volker: loc. cit. cf. as well as Elisabeth von Thadden (interviewer): „Kampf der Symbole”: Warum wir lernen müssen, die Propaganda des Terrors zu verstehen: Ein Gespräch mit dem Philosophen Philippe-Joseph Salazar über Bildungslücken und Verführungskraft („The Fight of Symbols”: Why we must learn to understand the propaganda of terror: A conversation with the philosopher Philippe-Joseph Salazar on gaps in education and seduction), in: Die Zeit, No. 37/2016, p. 37; http://www.zeit.de/2016/37/terror-propaganda-schule-is-literatur-umgang. Salazar suggests at this point, that „the caliphate alleges to be a state” and also that “states take manifold shapes.”
42) cf. Trechsel, Anna (interviewer): loc. cit.
43) cf. Lüders, Michael: loc. cit., p. 96.
44) cf. ibid., p. 95.
45) cf. Musharbash, Yassin: Sehen wir uns die Steinigung an? Zum Lachen, zum Weinen: Ein erster Blick auf die Schulbücher des „Islamischen Staates” (Let’s have a look at the stoning? To laugh, to cry: A first look at the teaching materials of the „Islamic State”), in: Die Zeit, No. 47, November 10, 2016, p. 58.
46) cf. Perthes, Volker: loc. cit.
47) cf. Merkel, Reinhard: Wen sollen wir denn da bekriegen? Die Franzosen müssen sich gut überlegen, ob sie jetzt von einem Krieg gegen den IS sprechen wollen. Sie würden damit eine Menschheitsplage nobilitieren – mit unabsehbar grotesken Folgen. Ein Gastbeitrag. (Whom are we to wage? The French must be well aware of whether they now want to speak of a war against the IS. They would thereby nobilitate human race with incalculably grotesque consequences. A guest contribution), in: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, November 19, 2015; http://www.faz.net/aktuell/feuilleton/debatten/frankreichs-kriegserklaerung-wen-bekriegen-13919449.html.
48) cf. Mackinder, Halford: Democratic Ideals and Reality, New York 1919 as well as anonymous: Heartland-Theorie; http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heartland-Theorie.
49) cf. Mahan, Alfred Thayer: The Influence of Sea Power upon History, 1660–1783. Little, Brown & Co, New York 1890 as well as anonymous: The Influence of Sea Power upon History; http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Der_Einfluss_der_Seemacht_auf_die_Geschichte.
50) Kraus, Hans-Christof provides such a consideration. And you think it’s about a dictator. The reactions to the Syrian conflict reveal the geopolitical ignorance of some German commentators: Ten minutes of tuition for a given occasion cannot hurt, in: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, July 24, 2012; http://www.faz.net/aktuell/feuilleton/syrien-und-ihr-denkt-es-geht-um-einen-diktator- 11830492.html.
51) Watson, Roland: U.S. Would Keep Troops in Iraq to Aid Reform, in: The Times, July 18, 2002; original URL: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3-358938,00.html now to be found: http://www.casi.org.uk/discuss/2002/msg01047.html.
52) cf. Hersh, Seymour M.: The Redirection. Is the Administration’s new policy benefitting our enemies in the war on terrorism?, in: The New Yorker, Issue of March 5, 2007; http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2007/03/05/the-redirection.
53) Anderson, Tim: loc.cit., p. 19; cf. also Meyssan, Thierry: The European Union is blind to the military strategy of the United States, in: Current Concerns, No. 14, June 2, 2015; http://www.zeit-fragen.ch/de/ausgaben/2015/nr-14-26-mai-2015/die-blindheit-der-europaeischen-union-gegenueber-der-militaerstrategie-der-usa.html.
54) Hersh, Seymour M.: loc.cit., 2007; cf. also Ladurner, Ulrich: Hilfe aus Teheran? Der Iran kann eine Lösung der syrischen Krise nicht herbeiführen, aber jede mögliche Lösung verhindern (Help from Tehran? Iran cannot bring about a solution to the Syrian crisis, but prevent any solution), in: Die Zeit, No. 36, August 30, 2012, p. 5; http://www.zeit.de/2012/36/Syrien-Krise-Iran.
55) Pernin, Christopher G./Nichiporuk, Brian/Stahl, Dale/Beck, Justin/Radaelli-Sanchez, Ricky: Unfolding the Future of the Long War. Motivations, Prospects, and Implications for the U.S. Army, Santa Monica, CA/Arlington, VA/Pittsburgh, PA, 2008, p. xvi; http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/monographs/2008/RAND_MG738.pdf.
56) ibid., p. 85.
57) cf. Hersh, Seymour M.: loc.cit., 2007 and Anderson, Tim: loc.cit., pp. 15.
58) Pernin, Christopher G./Nichiporuk, Brian/Stahl, Dale/Beck, Justin/Radaelli-Sanchez, Ricky: loc. cit., p. 113.
59) Peters, Ralph: Blood borders. How a better Middle East would look, in: Armed Forces Journal, 1 June 2006; http://www.armedforcesjournal.com/blood-borders/.
61) Anonymous: US-General: „We will attack 7 countries and topple their governments within 5 years”. Wesley Clark, Four-Star-General (ret.) of the US Army, disclosed already 2007 to the public, which governments the USA will topple; http://www.viviano.de/us-general-wir-werden-7-laender-angreifen-und-deren-regierungen-innerhalb-von-5-jahren-stuerzen_a61763.html. See as well the appearance of Wesley Clark under https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wFixu8HDxOQ, and Anderson, Tim: Loc. cit., pp. 17.
62) Postinett, Axel: „Seven states in five years. Is, what is happening in Iraq, following an American master plan, which thoroughly failed? There are many indications – and an end is not clear”, in: Handelsblatt, June 13, 2014; http://www.handelsblatt.com/politik/international/us-aussenpolitik-sieben-staaten-in-fuenf-jahren/10036758-all.html.
63) General Wesley Clark and Amy Goodman: „Global Warfare: We’re going to take out 7 countries in 5 years: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan & Iran”, Global Research, May 14, 2016, Democracy Now, 2 March 2007; http://www.globalresearch.ca/we-re-going-to-take-out-7-countries-in-5-years-iraq-syria-lebanon-libya-somalia-sudan-iran/5166.
64) cf. McAdams, Daniel: General Wesley Clark: ‘ISIS has been created with the money of our closest allies’; http://antikrieg.com/aktuell/2015_02_21_ general.htm.
65) Clark, Wesley: „Our friends and allies funded ISIS to destroy Hezbollah”; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QHLqaSZPe98. See also: https://www.heise.de/forum/Telepolis/Kommentare/Irak-Befreiung-vom-IS-geht-auch-ohne-US-Unterstuetzung/Wesley-Clark-bestaetigt-im-Interview-mit-CNN-Die-USA-Co-haben-IS-erschaffen/thread-4296638/#posting_25155778.
66) Department of Defense (ed.): Information Report 14-L-0552/DIA/288, Washington D.C., August 12, 2012; http://www.judicialwatch.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Pg.-291-Pgs.-287-293-JW-v-DOD-and-State-14-812-DOD-Release-2015-04-10-final-version11.pdf.
67) cf. Ahmed, Nafeez: Pentagon report predicted West’s support for Islamist rebels would create ISIS. Anti-ISIS coalition knowingly sponsored violent extremists to ‘isolate’ Assad, rollback ‘Shia expansion’, in: Insurge Intelligence, May 22, 2015; https://medium.com/insurge-intelligence/secret-pentagon-report-revealswest-saw-isis-as-strategic-asset-b99ad7a29092.
68) List from Department of Defense (ed.): Information Report 14-L-0552/DIA/288, Washington D.C., 12 August 2012; http://www.judicialwatch.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Pg.-291-Pgs.-287-293-JW-v-DOD-and-State-14-812-DOD-Release-2015-04-10-final-version11.pdf.
69) For further details see Anderson, Tim: Loc. cit., especially pp. 43; Merkel, Reinhard: Der Westen ist schuldig. Wie hoch darf der Preis für eine demokratische Revolution sein? In Syrien sind Europa und die Vereinigten Staaten die Brandstifter einer Katastrophe. Es gibt keine Rechtfertigung für diesen Bürgerkrieg. (The West is guilty. What is the price of a democratic revolution? In Syria, Europe and the United States are the incendiaries of a disaster. There is no justification for this civil war), in: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, No. 176, August 1, 2013, p. 28; http://www.faz.net/aktuell/feuilleton/debatten/syrien-der-westen-ist-schuldig-12314314.html as well as Meyer, Günter: „Wir haben es mit einem massiven Eingreifen von außen zu tun”. („We are dealing with a massive intervention from outside.”) Interview „Bayern 2” with the expert of oriental affairs Günter Meyer on the situation in Syria, in: Current Concerns, No. 6 of February 20, 2012, see also http://www.zeit-fragen.ch/de/print/ausgaben/2012/nr-6-vom-622012/wir-haben-es-mit-einem-massiven-eingreifen-von-aussen-zu-tun.html. Ladurner, Ulrich: Loc. cit. summarizes this circumstance as follows: „Many an interventionist makes no secret of the fact that in Syria it is not about the Syrian people, but about ‘grinding or breaking the weakest link in that chain, which extends from Tehran via Damascus to the Iranosaurs of Hezbollah’ (Bernard-Henri Lévy, Die Zeit, No. 34/12). Thus, the main target is the weakening of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the West’s archenemy in the region. Assad’s fall is to be the overture to the fall of the mullahs in Tehran. This consideration, not the interest in a democratic future of Syria, links the US and Europe with Saudi Arabia and Qatar.”
In this context, also the Federal Republic of Germany plays anything but a laudable role, specifically as part of the secret project „The Day After”, in which the director of the governmental think tank „Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik” (SWP), together with Jeffrey Feltman, then the US State Department’s person responsible for the Middle East, brought together conspiratorially a group of about 50 Syrian oppositionists in Berlin to work out a plan for Syria’s political structures after the fall of the Assad government. The whole project was financed by the United States Institute for Peace (USIP), a sister organization of the CIA Institute „National Endowment for Democracy (NED)”. The weekly magazine Die Zeit consequentially drew the conclusion: „Germany is much more involved in the preparations of the Syrian opposition than it was previously publicly declared”. See Lau, Jörg: The new Syria comes from Wilmersdorf. For months, Assad opponents secretly met in Berlin – with the knowledge and the will of the Federal Government, in: Die Zeit, No. 31, July 26, 2012, http://www.zeit.de/2012/31/Syrien-Bundesregierung as well as Meyssan, Thierry: String-pullers of the war in Syria, in: Current Concerns, No. 3, 12 February 2016, http://www.zeit-fragen.ch/de/ausgaben/2016/nr-3-2-februar-2016/strippenzieher-des-krieges-in-syrien.html.
70) Hoff, Brad: Newly Translated WikiLeaks Saudi Cable: Overthrow the Syrian Regime, but Play Nice with Russia, in: Levant Report, February 25, 2016; http://levantreport.com/2015/05/19/2012-defense-intelligence-agency-document-west-will-facilitate-rise-of-islamic-state-in-order-to-isolate-the-syrian-regime/.
72) Ahmed, Nafeez: Loc. cit.
73) cf. von Westphalen, Andreas: Der westliche Wunsch nach einem Islamischen Staat, (The Western desire for an Islamistic state), Hintergrund, June 2, 2015; http://www.hintergrund.de/201506023552/globales/terrorismus/der-westliche-wunsch-nach-einem-islamischen-staat.html.
74) Bolton, John cited from Wallace, Chris: Mike Huckabee lays out path to 2016 Republican nomination. Amb. John Bolton talks NSA surveillance, growth of ISIS, Fox News Sunday, May 24, 2015; http://www.foxnews.com/transcript/2015/05/24/mike-huckabee-lays-outpath-to-2016-republican-nomination-amb-john-bolton-talks/.
75) Flynn, Michael cited from Newman, Alex: U.S. Defense Intel Chief: Obama Gave „Willful” Aid to Al-Qaeda, in: The New American, 11 August 2015; http://www.thenewamerican.com/usnews/foreign-policy/item/21384-u-s-defense-intel-chief-obama-gave-willful-aid-to-al-qaeda.
76) cf. Newman, Alex: Loc. cit. The fact, that not only the USA bear the responsibility for that, but also their loyal vassals, is pointed out by the Syrian-catholic patriarch Joseph Younan in an interview of Die Zeit, in which he criticized: „Hollande Cameron und Merkel ließen sich zu Komplizen von Mördern machen” (Hollande, Cameron and Merkel allowed themselves to be made accomplices of murderers), in: Finger, Evelyn (interviewer): „Fromme Lüge” („White lie”). The Syrian-catholic patriarch accuses the West to ignore the suffering of the Christians, in: Die Zeit, No 52, December 23, 2015, p.68, http://www.zeit.de/2015/52/christenverfolgung-interview-joseph-younan.
79) cf. Newman, Alex: Loc. cit.; Hoff, Brad: Joe Biden’s Stunning Admission on the Origins of ISIS: Vice President Exposes Government’s Own False Narrative, in: Levant Report, October 5, 2014; https://levantreport.com/2014/10/05/joe-bidens-stunning-admission-on-the-origins-of-isis-vice-president-exposes-governments-own-false-narrative/; Plett Usher, Barbara: Joe Biden apologized over IS remarks, but was he right? BBC News, October 7, 2014; http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-29528482. The transatlantic front paper at Hamburgs’s Speersort, Die Zeit, promptly titled: „Die diplomatischen Aussetzer des Joe Biden. US-Vize Biden muss bei mehreren Verbündeten Abbitte leisten, weil er sie in Verbindung mit dem IS brachte. Nicht der erste Patzer des Mannes, der Präsident werden will”. (The diplomatic lapses of Joe Biden. US vice president Biden has to apologize to multiple allies because he connected them to IS. Not the first mistake made by the man who wants to be president), in: zeit online, October 9, 2014; http://www.zeit.de/politik/ausland/2014-10/biden-patzer-diplomatie.
80) Biden, Joe quoted by Sandboxer: Biden: Turks, Saudis, UAE funded and armed Al Nusra and Al Qaeda, Mideast Shuffle, October 4, 2014; https://mideastshuffle.com/2014/10/04/biden-turks-saudis-uae-funded-and-armed-al-nusra-and-al-qaeda/; cf. Bidens speech via https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UrXkm4FImvc&feature=youtu.be&t=1h31m57s.
81) cf. Hersh, Seymour M.: The Red Line and the Rat Line. Seymour M. Hersh on Obama, Erdogan and the Syrian rebels, in: London Review of Books, Vol. 36, No. 8, April 17, 2014, pp. 21-24; http://www.lrb.co.uk/v36/n08/seymour-m-hersh/the-red-line-and-the-rat-line; cf. also Nimmo, Kurt: ISIS and the Plan to Balkanize the Middle East. CIA’s Benghazi Weapons Used by ISIS in Conquest of Iraq, Infowars.com, June 15, 2014; http://www.infowars.com/isis-and-the-plan-to-balkanize-the-middle-east/ as well as Merkel, Reinhard: Loc. cit., 2013.
82) cf. Hersh, Seymour M.: Loc. cit., 2014, p. 23.
86) Department of Defense (ed.): Information Report 14-L-0552/DIA/ 397, Washington D.C., 16 September 2012 http://www.judicialwatch.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Pgs.-394-398-396-from-JW-v-DOD-and-State-14-812-DOD-Release-2015-04-10-final-version2.pdf.
87) Department of Defense (ed.): Information Report 14-L-0552/DIA/ 3, Washington D.C., 5 October 2012 http://www.judicialwatch.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Pgs.-1-3-2-3-from-JW-v-DOD-and-State-14-812-DOD-Release-2015-04-10-final-version1.pdf.
88) cf. Acosta, Jim/Liptak, Kevin: Rice: United States is leading with ‘lethal and non-lethal’ aid to Syria, CNN, June 6, 2014; http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2014/06/06/rice-united-states-is-leading-with-lethal-and-non-lethal-aid-to-syria/ as well as Nimmo, Kurt: Susan Rice Admits U.S. Giving Arms to Al-Qaeda in Syria, Infowars.com, June 7, 2014; http://www.infowars.com/susan-rice-admits-u-s-giving-arms-to-al-qaedain-syria/.
89) cf. Anderson, Tim: Loc. cit. p. 223.
90) cf. Taylor, Rob: Pipeline Politics in Syria. You Can’t Understand the Conflict Without Talking About Natural Gas, in: Armed Forces Journal, March 21, 2014 http://armedforcesjournal.com/pipeline-politics-in-syria/.
91) cf. ibid.
92) cf. Scheben, Helmut: Syrien, ein Krieg um Gas und Öl. (Syria, a war for gas and oil), Infosperber, December 2, 2015; http://www.infosperber.ch/Politik/Syrien-ein-Krieg-um-Gas-und-Ol; Kessler, Olivier: Gewollte Eskalation? Aufflammender Konflikt zwischen Saudi- Arabien und dem Iran. Die Intensivierung des Konflikts zwischen Saudi-Arabien und dem Iran nützt vor allem den Saudis. Dadurch könnte die gemeinsame Bekämpfung des IS in Syrien ins Hintertreffen geraten, was im Interesse des saudischen Königshauses liegen dürfte (Wanted escalation? Flaring conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran. The intensification of the conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran is of particular benefit to Saudis. Thus the joint fight against the IS in Syria might fall behind, which is likely to be in the interest of the Saudi Royal House), in: Schweizerzeit – Bürgerlich-konservatives Magazin für Unabhängigkeit, Föderalismus und Freiheit, January 15, 2016; http://www.schweizerzeit.ch/cms/index.php?page=/news/gewollte_eskalation-2534; Orenstein, Mitchell A./Romer, George: Putin’s Gas Attack. Is Russia Just in Syria for the Pipelines?, in: Foreign Affairs, October 14, 2015; https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/syria/2015-10-14/putins-gas-attack, freely available on: http://www.antiwarblog.info/2015/10/14/syrian-war-explainer-it-is-about-russian-and-american-block-rivalary/ as well as Hamer, Eberhard: Syrien: Vom Stellvertreterkrieg zum Frieden oder Chaos? (From proxy war to peace or chaos?), in: Zeit-Fragen, No. 2/3, January 28, 2014, http://www.zeit-fragen.ch/de/print/ausgaben/2014/nr-23-2812014/syrien-vom-stellvertreterkrieg-zum-frieden-oder-chaos.html.
93) cf. Scheben, Helmut: loc. cit., Kessler, Olivier: loc. cit., as well as Orenstein, Mitchell A./Romer, George: loc. cit.
94) cf. Hersh, Seymour M.: Whose sarin?, in: London Review of Books, Vol. 35, No. 24, December 19, 2013, pp. 9–12; http://www.lrb.co.uk/v35/n24/seymour-m-hersh/whose-sarin; deutsche Übersetzung ders.: Wessen Sarin?, in: Zeit-Fragen, No. 2/3, January 28, 2014, p. 1–4; http://www.zeit-fragen.ch/de/print/ausgaben/2014/nr-23-2812014/wessen-sarin.html, loc. cit., 2014, Paech, Norman: Sarin in Syrien (Sarin in Syria); http://norman-paech.de/app/download/5803871272/Sarin+in+Syrien+11-2015.pdf; cf. the same: Sarin in Syrien (Sarin in Syria), in: International, IV/2015, p. 27–30; cf. the same: Sarin in Syrien (1) (Sarin in Syria 1), in: Ossietzky, 1/2016; http://www.sopos.org/aufsaetze/56865875406f5/1.phtml, cf. the same: Sarin in Syrien (2) (Sarin in Syria 2), in: Ossietzky, 2/2016; http://www.sopos.org/aufsaetze/56a0d55d9d8ac/1.phtml; Scheben, Helmut: loc. cit.; Corsi, Jerome R.: Evidence: Syria gas attack work of U.S. allies. Contrary evidence arises as U.S. considers punishing Assad regime, in: World Net Daily (WND), 26 August 2013; http://www.wnd.com/2013/08/video-shows-rebels-launching-gas-attack-in-syria/; Berlekamp, Hinnerk: Auch die Rebellen haben Chemiewaffen. Die US-Regierung und ihre Verbündeten scheinen sich festgelegt zu haben: Das Assad-Regime ist für den Chemiewaffeneinsatz der vorigen Woche verantwortlich. Damit ignorieren sie Indizien, wonach auch die Rebellen über C-Waffen verfügen (The rebels also have chemical weapons. The US government and its allies seem to have established themselves: The Assad regime is responsible for the chemical weapon deployment last week. They ignore evidence that the rebels have C weapons), in: Berliner Zeitung vom August 27, 2013; http://www.berliner-zeitung.de/politik/giftgas-in-syrien-auch-die-rebellen-haben-chemiewaffen-,10808018,24134746.html as well as Hackensberger, Alfred: Die Beweise für den Einsatz von Giftgas sind dünn. Frankreich und die USA sehen es als bewiesen an, dass das Assad-Regime im syrischen Bürgerkrieg chemische Kampfstoffe einsetzt. Die Beweise aber sind dünn. Eine Spurensuche (The evidence for the use of poison gas is thin. France and the US see it as proving that the Assad regime is using chemical weapons in the Syrian civil war. The evidence, however, is thin. A track search), in: Die Welt, July 9, 2013; https://www.welt.de/politik/ausland/article117881245/Die-Beweise-fuer-den-Einsatz-von-Giftgas-sind-duenn.html.
95) cf. Taylor, Rob: Loc. cit.
96) cf. Anonymous: Islamischer Staat (Organisation); https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamischer_Staat_(Organisation) (engl. Version https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_state).
97) cf. The White House – Office of the Press Secretary (ed.). Statement by the President on ISIL, Washington D. C.,10 September 2014; https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/09/10/statement-president-isil-1.
98) Joffe, Josef: Der Fluch des Iraks. Amerika zieht wieder in den Krieg. Die erste Runde ist einfach (The curse of Iraq. America is going back to war. The first round is easy), in: Die Zeit, No. 34, August 15, 2014; http://www.zeit.de/2014/34/isis-irak-usa.
99) cf. Ammann, Beat: Kritik in den USA. Obamas halbherziger Luftkrieg (Criticism in the US. Obamas halfhearted air war), in: Washington Post, October 8, 2014; http://www.nzz.ch/international/diskussion-um-staerke-in-amerika-1.18399413.
100) Editorial Board: U.S. Air Campaign against Islamic State isn’t Achieving its Aims, in: Washington Post, October 7, 2014; https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/us-air-campaign-against-islamic-state-isnt-achieving-its-aims/2014/10/07/999fff98-4e4a-11e4-babe-e91da079cb8a_story.html?hpid=z7.
101) Joffe, Josef: Der Westen im Kampf gegen die Vergangenheit. Die Geschichte ist wieder da, (The West in the fight against the past. History is back), in: Neue Zürcher Zeitung, December 2, 2015; http://www.nzz.ch/feuilleton/die-geschichte-ist-wieder-da-ld.3367; cf. the same: Das Gesetz des Gemetzels. Der Westen wird den Terror nicht beseitigen. Aber er kann ihn mit Gewalt niederhalten (The law of slaughter. The West will not eliminate terror. But he can hold him by force), in: Die Zeit, No. 45, November 13, 2014, p. 3; http://www.zeit.de/2014/45/krieg-terror-kampf-westen.
102) Joffe, Josef (interviewee): Was macht die Welt? Vier Fragen an Josef Joffe, in: Tagesspiegel, May 31, 2015; http://www.tagesspiegel.de/politik/vier-fragen-an-josef-joffe-was-macht-die-welt/11850396.html; cf. the same: Bye-bye, Irak. Obama schreibt das Land ab und bombardiert den IS nur zögerlich (Bye-bye, Iraq. Obama writes off the country and is reluctant to bomb the IS), in: Die Zeit, No. 23, June 3, 2015; http://www.zeit.de/2015/23/islamischer-staat-irak-usa-zeitgeist as well as Lüders, Michael: Loc. cit., p. 101.
103) Joffe, Josef: Loc. cit., December 2, 2015.
104) cf. Anonymous: Mikdad: US, Turkish agreement to arm and train terrorists means failure of de Mistura initiative, in: Syrian TV; http://www.syriaonline.sy/?f=Details&catid=12&pageid=14491; see also Anderson, Tim: Loc. cit., pp. 225.
105) Joffe, Josef: Kampf gegen IS in Syrien: Die USA dürfen nicht mehr so halbherzig bombardieren. Der Westen kann den „Islamischen Staat“ bezwingen: Wenn die Kosten des Terrors hochgetrieben werden – und Deutschland den Franzosen hilft. Ein Kommentar (Fighting the IS in Syria: The US is no longer allowed to bombard halfheartedly. The West can conquer the „Islamic State”: if the costs of terror are boosted – and Germany helps the French. A comment), in: Der Tagesspiegel, November 20, 2015; http://www.tagesspiegel.de/politik/kampf-gegen-den-is-in-syrien-die-usa-duerfen-nicht-mehr-so-halbherzig-bombardieren/12612150.html.
106) Lüders, Michael: Loc. cit., p. 133.
107) Kessler, Olivier: Loc. cit.
108) cf. Inbar, Efraim: The Destruction of Islamic State is a Strategic Mistake, BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 352, Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, Ramat Gan, August 2, 2016; http://besacenter.org/perspectives-papers/destruction-islamic-state-strategic-mistake/. The weekly journal Die Zeit takes the same line saying: „In the fight against the IS is not about victory, containment is enough”, cf. Böhm, Andrea/Dausend, Peter/Thumann, Michael/Ulrich, Bernd: Koalition der Feinde. Ängste, Träume, Illusionen – was die Europäer im Kampf gegen den IS bewegt (Fears, Dreams, Illusions – what Europeans stir in the fight against IS), in: Die Zeit, No. 49, December 28, 2015, p. 3; http://www.zeit.de/2015/49/islamischer-staat-krieg-assad-russland-usa; cf. also Joffe, Josef: Loc. cit., November 13, 2014.
109) Inbar, Efraim: Loc.cit.