Islamic State – Another Boomerang to Hit West Right in its Head
Dmitry MININ | 02.09.2014 | WORLD / Middle East

Islamic State – Another Boomerang to Hit West Right in its Head

The execution of James Foley, the American photojournalist beheaded by Islamic State militants, was an impressively staged and remarkably acted drama symbolizing a greater meaning. The sword over his head looked like a boomerang thrown some time ago by the West with an aim to pursue its purely selfish and shortsighted interests. Before his death Foley said that Western leaders were responsible for what was happening. Why should he be insincere at his last moment? It serves the purpose to remember that the executioner was a London rapper turned jihadist – a phenomenon engendered by Western civilization. 

Just recently the Islamic State had targeted only Iraq and Syria as denoted by its previous name - the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Now the stakes are higher, it wants the whole world. By and large the history of its relationship with the United States is the repetition of Al Qaeda story. The both organizations were given birth by Western special services to counter geopolitical adversaries: first it was the USSR, then Syria. It’s well-known what the romance between Washington and Al Qaeda resulted in. Georg Hegel said «History teaches that history teaches us nothing». Having fostered the Islamic State to make it fight Bashar Assad, the United States was evidently sure it had done everything right, and there was no place for any miscalculations. The days of opposing the mighty Soviet Union became a thing of the past. This time it was a mission of much smaller scale. Unlike Al Qaeda, the new clone did not seem to require such a great contribution on the part of the US. Washington believed it had enough influence in the Middle East to prevent its new creation from going too far. But as the unipolar world continues its decline, the US commits more and more foreign policy gaffes. Washington may want to improve the situation but all its plans go awry. 

In case of Al Qaeda the West made a blunder to trigger a backlash. In the case of the Islamic State it was utter failure as it stepped on the same rake twice. Today Al Qaeda has become a thing of the past, a relic to be forgotten as it has no chance for revival. To the contrary, the Islamic State has promising future as embodiment of Islamic radicalism. The organization keeps up with the times: its inventory includes high-tech equipment and it uses modern methods to conduct operations. The Islamic State has got hold of vast areas across Iraq and Syria; it controls nearly half of their territories with the population measured in millions. Many people who populate the seized land have lived in the United States and Europe. Some are Europeans and Americans by birth, they are Christians converted into Islam. According to MI-6 (UK Secret Intelligence Service), there are as many as 400 British nationals fighting with the Islamic State. In Syria three British jihadists guard Western hostages. They go around under the aliases of John, Paul and Ringo (probably George Harrison, the fourth of the Beatles, has gone to heaven). Soon they may return home. It’ll be extremely hard to identify them. The chances are high for the Twin Towers tragedy to be repeated again. It may be much worse this time, you never know.

The Islamic States leaders happened to be much more ambitious than expected; they change the system of balances in the region. Probably the remains of Al Qaeda will mix up with the global jihadists’ organization. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (Ebu Bekir el Bağdadi) got away from the control of puppeteers who began to lose their skills. On June 29 2014, the Islamic State announced the establishment of a caliphate, al-Baghdadi was named its caliph (leader of all Muslims) to be known as caliph Ibrahim. Born in Samarra, Iraq, he was once detained by Americans to be kept behind bars at Camp Bucca, a U.S. military detention facility near Umm Qasr, Iraq. "Ibrahim Awad Ibrahim Al Badry, also known as ‘Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’ was held as a ‘civilian internee’ by U.S. Forces-Iraq from early February 2004 until early December 2004, when he was released," the Pentagon said in a statement. "He was held at Camp Bucca. A Combined Review and Release Board recommended ‘unconditional release’ of this detainee and he was released from U.S. custody shortly thereafter. We have no record of him being held at any other time." Army Colonel Kenneth King, the former commander of Camp Bucca, says al-Baghdadi left the camp only in 2009. Right after the release he started to grow in jihadists’ ranks while implementing the US plans to overthrow Bashar Assad. Some sources say he has taken intensive military training in the hands of Mossad, besides courses in theology and the art of speech. There are pictures going around with US Senator John McCain meeting al-Baghdadi in Syria. It makes recall the pictures of Zbigniew Brzezinski, former National Security Advisor, meeting Al Qaeda militants in Afghanistan. Islamic State commander Sheikh Abu Umar al-Shishani, believed to be behind many military victories of the group, also has an «American trace» in his biography. His real name is Tarkhan Batirashvili. He was born in 1986 into an ethnic Georgian-Kist family. His father belongs to the Georgian gvari Batirashvili and his mother belonged to the Melkhi clan. His father, Timur Batirashvilli, is an ethnic Georgian Orthodox Christian and his mother was a Muslim. Their village of Birkiani is located in Georgia’s Pankisi Gorge, which was a major transit point for rebels participating in the Second Chechen War, and according to his father, a young Batirashvili secretly helped Chechen militants into Russia and sometimes joined them on missions against Russian troops. He has gone through a US military training course in the ranks of Georgian army where he was recruited into a special reconnaissance group. Batirashvilli rose to the rank of sergeant in a newly formed intelligence unit, and during the 2008 Russia-Georgia war he served near the front line spying on Russian tank columns and relaying their coordinates to Georgian artillery units. (3)

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is a new Osama bin Laden. There is something special about his personality. His brothers-in-arms support the Baghdadi’s claim to be a descendant of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad's Quraysh tribe - one of the key qualifications in Islamic history for becoming the caliph. It distinguishes him from bin Laden and the Saudi dynasty ruling Saudi Arabia, the country that hosts Mekka and Medina, the Muslim holy cities. This specific feature of his biography may happen to be important enough to influence the events in the whole Middle East, the volatile region brought to the boiling point by US policy. Practice shows that the mere mentioning of the al-Baghdadi’s name is enough to make superior forces retreat before the forces he leads. Jordan is seen as a weak point – the most vulnerable country to come under attack in the near future and this point of view has certain substantiation. Arab grassroots believe the ruling Hashemite dynasty has «spoiled blood» by marrying British women. Actually king Abdullah II can rely only on Circassian royal guards as many Bedouin tribes, another pillar of the dynasty, have switched sides to join the Islamic State militants. Regular military don’t dare to show up in the southern province of Maan with predominantly Bedouin population. There is no need to say that the loyalty of Palestinians living in Jordan is questionable as they are deprived of civil rights. 

On August 29 the New York Times published an alarmist article by US State Secretary John Kerry devoted to the threat posed by the Islamic State, «A hardened fighting force of committed jihadists with global ambitions, exploiting the conflict in Syria and sectarian tensions in Iraq». He adds, «There is evidence that these extremists, if left unchecked, will not be satisfied at stopping with Syria and Iraq. They are larger and better funded in this new incarnation, using pirated oil, kidnapping and extortion to finance operations in Syria and Iraq. They are equipped with sophisticated heavy weapons looted from the battlefield. They have already demonstrated the ability to seize and hold more territory than any other terrorist organization, in a strategic region that borders Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey and is perilously close to Israel». According to the Secretary, «With a united response led by the United States and the broadest possible coalition of nations, the cancer of ISIS will not be allowed to spread to other countries». What strikes an eye – John Kerry puts the blame for the emergence of the group on… Syrian intelligence (!?) The same way Kiev says Ukrainian self-defense forces in Donbass use Grad multiple launch rocket systems to fire at themselves. The arguments are absurd in the both cases making the teacher and his disciple speak out in full harmony. The Secretary also comes to rather strange conclusions. He believes that the way to counter the Islamic State is to support Iraq and Syrian moderate opposition. As he puts it in the article, «Airstrikes alone won’t defeat this enemy. A much fuller response is demanded from the world. We need to support Iraqi forces and the moderate Syrian opposition, who are facing ISIS on the front lines». (!?) But the latter is a regular reserve and a source of providing up-to-date weapons to the Islamic State it is supposed to fight. The United States Middle East policy is not even a bull, but rather a dying dinosaur in a china shop. 

At that the Washington-led West continues to support Jabhat al Nusra and the Islamic Front led by Sheikh Zahran Alloush who enjoys the support of US Central Intelligence Agency. The two groups espouse the very same ideology as the Islamic State. Some time ago Alloush left his fighters die in the heat of battle raging in the Qalamoun Mountains, now he is leading the young people of Eastern Ghuta, a Damascus suburban area, to certain death. The only difference is that they are not waging war against the West. Following this cynical logic, if the Islamic State had not significantly undermined the West’s interests in Iraq, probably John Kerry would not have made any calls for overall mobilization to counter the threat coming from this group. The US goal is not to defeat the Islamic State; otherwise it would have applied a much greater effort sending a much larger force. The world community should think twice before following the appeal to join and fight along with America. Is the United States sincere this time? 

There is only one force in the Middle East that could defeat the Islamic State. The first thing that comes to mind is the Israeli military (Tsahal) with its modern equipment. But it’s not the case. Tsahal cannot take sides in the Arab world internal conflicts. But the Bashar Assad’s Syrian regular military is the right choice; it is best suited for the mission in question. It should be given an opportunity to concentrate on the job with no other missions to distract it. The right way to tackle the problem is to immediately terminate any support rendered to the anti-Assad opposition and begin serious talks about joining together with the Free Syrian Army (or whatever is left of it). In any case it would allow the West to save face and do away with the restrictions on the way of providing funds to a newly established joint Syrian force which would be manned with seasoned warriors already deployed right there in the region being vitally concerned in defeating the radicals. This chance should be grabbed till the window of opportunity is open. It should be done now; tomorrow it may be too late. Then the «boomerang» will hit many heads. It’s a sad fact, but practice shows there will be many innocent victims. 

Tags: Al Qaeda  Iraq  Syria  US