This is part 2 of a 2-part article, “With Friends Like These…Who Needs Enemies?” Click this link for Part 1: “With Friends Like These…”
United States ally and NATO member Turkey, perhaps with the blessing of the US, shot down a Russia military jet for—if Turkey is to be believed—violating its airspace for 17 seconds. The Wall Street Journal, a valuable government ally in its war on the truth, mocked Putin for his “stab in the back” rhetoric against Turkey and his restrained military and diplomatic response, calling him a “paper tiger.”
Outsmarting the government and The Wall Street Journal isn’t hard these days. Putin saved his fire for the most important war, that US war on truth. He called out the Gulf States, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey for aiding ISIS. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoǧan said he would resign if anyone could produce conclusive evidence that Turkey was aiding ISIS. Russia responded with maps showing the routes used to smuggle ISIS oil to Turkey, and pictures and videos of lines of tanker trucks moving across northern Iraq, eastern Syria, and the Turkish border, some just before they were hit by Russian bombs (LINK). There have been a number of stories linking Erdoğan’s sons and son-in-law to ISIS smuggling, and Iran has also offered to show what it terms “irrefutable evidence” of Turkey’s role. There has been no resignation announcement from Erdoğan.
Putin and his allies have also won military victories in the war the US refuses to fight. Russian bombs have scored significant hits against ISIS oil convoys and storage facilities, which until recently the US would not bomb. Embarrassed, the US has bombed some convoys (after giving the truck drivers 45 minutes warning) and storage tanks. The lame excuse for not doing so earlier: the Obama administration was worried about environmental damage and killing non-ISIS truck driver (this from an administration that had just bombed a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Afghanistan). Islamic and Hezbollah militias have won the majority of their battles against ISIS ground forces.
If, way back in 2001, the Bush administration had been serious, as it said it was, about going after “state sponsors of terrorism,” the first front should have opened against Saudi Arabia. Most of the 9/11 jihadists and suspected mastermind Osama bin Laden were from Saudi Arabia, and there is strong suspicion that 28 pages of the Senate report on its investigation of 9/11 that has still not been publicly released (notwithstanding an Obama promise to do so) contain damning evidence of wealthy Saudis’ and the Saudi government’s involvement.
The Saudis and the US had supported the Afghan Mujahideen—led by bin Laden—who bedeviled the Soviets in the 1970s and 1980s (see “A Perfect Time to Leave the Middle East”). The 9/11 attacks were neither the first nor the last time that the US government’s designs to “use” Islamic extremist group have blown up in its face. As Putin noted: “Gentlemen, the people you are dealing with are cruel but they are not dumb. They are as smart as you are. So, it’s a big question: who’s playing who here?”
Nobody has played the US like Saudi Arabia. Its variant of Islam, Wahhabism, is one of the most extreme proponents among Islamic sects of jihad and Islamic domination. Saudis have long funded madrasas—educational institutions that indoctrinate their students in Wahhabism—all over the world. ISIS is one among many Islamic extremist groups that have received money and arms from Saudi Arabia. At home, the Wahhabism version of Sharia, or Islamic law, is the most repressive and discriminatory in the Islamic world, and cartoonists—perhaps the last serious mainstream journalists—have made grisly sport recently comparing Saudi and ISIS beheadings (the Saudi government recently threatened to sue a Twitter tweeter making the same point). The Saudis may be even more cruel than ISIS, if that’s possible. Juveniles and poets have lost their heads for “subversive” activities like protests and poems.
To all this Washington has turned a bipartisan blind eye for over four decades. In exchange, Saudi Arabia has kept the price of oil affordable, supported and recycled petrodollars, bought US armaments, backed US interventionist policies in the Middle East, and since the first Gulf War, allowed US military installations to operate in Saudi Arabia proper (this is reportedly what turned Osama bin Laden against the US). The Gulf States with which Saudi Arabia is allied have mostly hewed to the same policies.
The rapid expansion of US oil extraction has thrown a spanner in the works. Saudi Arabia announced in November, 2014 that it would not limit its oil production in response to a declining oil price, and the price has crashed since then. It is strongly suspected that they want to drive US frackers out of business, and also inflict pain on oil colossus Russia, which has opposed its designs in Syria.Those designs are to depose Assad and get a natural gas pipeline built from ally Qatar through Syria to ally Turkey, where it could then be shipped to Europe. A new source of natural gas for Europe would diminish Russia’s stranglehold on that market, yet another reason Putin is aiding Assad.
US politicians say pathetically stupid things all the time, but nothing rivals the stupidity of cheerleaders for war on ISIS chirping that our Turkish, Saudi Arabian, and Gulf State allies—Sunnis all—will help us take out the Sunni extremists they have supported for years. If it’s not stupidity it can only be mendacity. The US is not going to wage the “serious war” on ISIS that the US public is bleating for unless its breaks with its longstanding Sunni allies in the Middle East. What the millions clamoring for the government to “get tough” on ISIS either fail or refuse to comprehend is that ISIS has been our ally with Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf States in the rebellion against Assad.
That truth has not permeated the mainstream media in this country. If the US breaks with the Sunni alliance, it becomes a de facto ally with Russia and Shiite Assad, Iran, Iraq, and Hezbollah. Assad and Putin are loathed; Iran has been non grata since Bush’s axis of evil speech; Iraq is in Iran’s orbit and now rejects further US military involvement in Iraq’s war against ISIS, and Israel hates Hezbollah. It would be a good idea, if getting rid of ISIS is the goal, to ditch unstable Erdoğan, who wants to drag NATO into a war with Russia, and repressive, terrorism fomenting, extremist Saudi Arabia and the Gulf State monarchies, and ally with the side that actually wants to fight ISIS. It would be a better idea to get out of the Middle East entirely.
Neither the good nor the best idea is going to happen. Stoked by the Paris atrocities and the San Bernardino shootings, and the ensuing media feeding frenzy, Americans are screaming for blood. They don’t know which flavor they want—Sunni or Shiite—but it doesn’t matter as long as its Moslem blood. Throw out that damn Constitution while we’re at it; no price is too high for ephemeral “safety.” Most Americans can’t find Syria, Iraq, Iran, or even Russia on a map, and they won’t get their war with ISIS. Obama’s will drop a few more bombs until the furor dies down while the Russian-Shiite alliance continues to do the real work.
The powers that be are never going to abandon the Sunni alliance, especially Saudi Arabia; there’s way too much money and power at stake. Things have gotten really weird at The Wall Street Journal, a powers’ propaganda organ (SLL subscribes to it for its business stories, and because it’s good to keep track of the opposition). It has virtually ignored the Sunni alliance’s support for ISIS, peddling the bizarre theory that ISIS and Assad really have a symbiotic relationship. Assad is supposedly buying all that oil from ISIS, thus funding the group trying to depose and behead him. The Journal’s policy prescription: the US should take them both out. Of course there would be no blowback from taking out both the Sunni side and the Shiite side, and no possibility, with Russia and Iran as potential opponents, of unintended consequences.
You never know, the US public just may be ignorant, gullible, stupid, deluded, rabid, and bloodthirsty enough to go for it; doubling down on a strategy that has produced nothing but failure and disaster. If they do, the overwhelming favorite as an outcome will be World War III. And if they do and a global conflagration ensues, how can anyone argue that America won’t deserve exactly what it gets?
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