Facing defeat in the proxy war in Syria, the Israeli-Saudi tandem is planning a new front against Hezbollah, presaged by Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri’s sudden resignation, as ex-British diplomat Alastair Crooke explains.
By Alastair Crooke
It seems that matters are coming to a head in the Middle East. For many states, the coming period will likely prove to be the moment in which they determine their futures — as well as that for the region as a whole.
The immediate peg for “crunch time” is Russia’s fast-track proposal of a conference to be held in Sochi, with the near-full kaleidoscope of Syrian opposition invited, which, if all goes as planned, might mean 1,000 delegates arriving in Sochi as soon as Nov. 18.
The Syrian government has agreed to attend. Of course, when one hears of attendance in these numbers, it suggests that this is not intended as a “sleeves rolled-up” working session, but rather as a meeting in which Russian thoughts will be mooted on the constitution, the system of government, and the place of “minorities” – with a chaser that Russia wants fresh elections pretty darned quick: which is to say, in six months’ time. In short, this is to be the “last chance saloon” for opposition figures: come aboard now, or be shut out, in the cold.
This initiative has plenty of push behind it, including President Putin’s personal endorsement, but no guarantee of success. Both Iran and Turkey (the co-guarantors of Astana) privately may have reservations, not knowing precisely what Moscow might unveil. Iran is insistent on Syria retaining a strong centralized government, and Turkey is likely to worry about whether the Kurds might receive too much from Moscow; it will also have reservations about sitting down with the YPD (Syrian Kurds), which it views to be little more than a re-branded PKK, which Turkey regards as a terrorist organization. If Turkey does pull out, it will take an important slice of the opposition with it.
Critical moments in history, however, do have a habit of proving to be less critical than first imagined, but this one effectively marks the beginning of the winding up process of the Syrian war and of the 20-year “New Middle East” project (as devised by the U.S. and Israeli governments). How each state responds, will determine the Middle East landscape for the next years.
Late last week, the Syrian army took the rest of Deir Ezzor city, and with it its rear now secure, the Syrian army is free to continue the 30 or so kilometers to reach Abu Kamal (al-Bukumal) – the last ISIS urban outpost – and the vital border crossing on the Euphrates with Iraq. It is estimated that there may be 3,500 Da’esh (another name for the Islamic State or ISIS) in Abu Kamal. But Abu Kamal’s “twin” (on the Iraqi side of the border), al-Qaim, was taken by the Iraqi government’s PMU militia forces on Friday. The Iraqi forces are now clearing the city of its estimated 1,500 Da’esh fighters.
The Syrian army, backed up by several thousand recently injected Hezbollah forces, is poised to enter Abu Kamal in the coming days from two directions – and from the south, a co-ordinated thrust north up and into Abu Kamal by the Iraqi Hash’d a- Sha’abi (PMU) militia, will form a pincer.
American-supported SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces), however, are also trying to reach Abu Kamal from the east (the U.S., pressured by Israel, would like to seal and close the border crossing). U.S. allied forces can move more quickly, as U.S. officers are seeking to bribe local tribal leaders who formerly had sworn allegiance to ISIS (with Saudi money), to switch sides, or at least to allow the SDF forces to advance unhindered by ISIS (as happened in the environs of Deir Ezzor).
In short, the military outcome in Syria is done (after six years of war), and now comes the political bargaining. How this plays out will determine the relative strengths of the forces that will shape the Middle East in the coming years. The outcome will likely see whether Turkey can be bullied back towards NATO (by threats such as that by General Petr Pavel, head of NATO’s military committee, warning of “consequences” for Turkey’s attempts to buy Russian air defenses), or whether Turkey’s determination to limit Kurdish aspirations will see Turkey position itself alongside Iran and Iraq (who share a common interest).
Turkey’s role in Idlib, in overseeing the de-escalation zone there, remains opaque. Effectively, its forces are positioned more to control the Afrin Kurdish “canton” (rather than monitor the Idlib de-escalation zone). It is possible that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is hoping to use Turkish troops to carve out a buffer zone along the Turkish-Syrian border – in contravention to the Astana understandings. If so, this will place him at odds with both Moscow and Damascus (but will not necessarily imply a return to the NATO camp, either).
The bargaining at Sochi will also make clearer whether Syria will be a strong centralized state (as Iran prefers), or a looser federal state as America (and perhaps Russia) would prefer. Sochi will be something of a litmus for the extent to which American influence can shape outcomes in today’s Middle East. At present, it looks as if there is co-ordination between Moscow and Washington for a speedy political settlement in Syria, a U.S. declaration of victory over ISIS, Syrian elections, and an American exit from the Syrian theatre.
The outcome of the conference will also perhaps clarify whether the Syrian Kurds finally will remain with the U.S. CentCom project for retaining a permanent U.S. presence in northeast Syria (as Israel wants), or whether the Syrian Kurds will cut a deal with Damascus (after witnessing the crushing of the Barzani Kurdish independence project by neighboring powers).
If the latter occurs, the argument for retaining a longer-term U.S. presence in northeast Syria would lose force. The Saudis will have either to accept defeat in Syria, or act the party-pooper (by trying to re-ignite the remaining proxy forces in Idlib) – but, for that, the kingdom would need Turkey’s compliance, and that may not be forthcoming.
Iraq too, irked by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s comments suggesting that the PMU are Iranian – and must “go home” – has already shown signs of re-orientating towards Russia. (It has recently signed an expansive energy and economic protocol with Russia – after having reclaimed control of its borders and of Iraq’s energy resources – and is procuring Russian arms). Evidence of Iraq’s close connections with Syria, Turkey and Iran was very manifest in the quick execution of the put-down to the Kurdish independence gambit.
But the state facing the biggest dilemma in respect to the Syrian outcome is Israel. Alex Fishman, the doyen of Israeli defense columnists, has written that Israel simply has failed to adjust to strategic change, and is locked in a narrow “cold war” mentality:
“The Syrians fire rockets at open areas: Israel destroys Syrian cannons in response; the Iranians threaten to deploy Shiite forces in Syria: Israel announces ‘red lines’ and threatens a military conflict; Fatah and Hamas hold futile talks on a unity government: the prime minister declares Israel is suspending talks with the Palestinans – and everyone here applauds the security and political echelons: – ‘there, we showed them the meaning of deterrence’, [the Israeli leadership repeats].
“But what we are seeing here is a provincial defense policy, a false representation of a leadership that barely sees beyond the tip of its nose, and is busy putting out fires day and night.
“It’s a leadership that sees national security through a narrow regional viewpoint. It’s as if everything beyond Hezbollah, Hamas and Iran doesn’t exist. It’s as if the world around us hasn’t changed in the past decades, and we are stuck in the era of aggressive solutions in the form of reward and punishment as the main political-security activity. The current political-security echelon isn’t solving problems, isn’t dealing with problems, but simply postponing them, passing them on to the next generation”
Missing the Strategic Picture
What Fishman is pointing to is profound: Israel has gained some tactical victories in the neighborhood (i.e. over the Palestinians generally, and in weakening Hamas), but it has lost sight of the wider strategic picture. In effect, Israel has lost its ability to dominate the region. It had wanted a weakened and fragmented Syria; it had wanted a Hezbollah mired in the Syrian mud, and an Iran circumscribed by Sunni sectarian antipathy towards the Shi’a generally. It is unlikely to get any of these.
Rather, Israel finds itself being deterred (rather than doing the deterring) by the knowledge that it cannot now overturn its strategic weakness (i.e. risk a three-front war) – unless, and only if, America will fully enter into any conflict, in support of Israel. And this is what worries the security and intelligence echelon: Would America now contemplate a decisive intervention on behalf of Israel – unless the latter’s very survival was at risk?
In 2006, Israeli officials recall, the U.S. did not enter Israel’s war against Hizbullah in Lebanon, and after 33 days, it was Israel that sought a ceasefire.
Fishman is right too that attacking Syrian factories and radar positions “out of old habit” solves nothing. It may be sold to the Israeli public as “deterrence,” but rather it is playing with fire. Syria has started to fire back with aged surface-to-air missiles (S200s) at Israeli aircraft. These missiles may not have hit an Israeli jet yet, and maybe were not even intended so to do. The Syrian message however, is clear: these missiles may be old, but they have a longer range than the newer S300: Potentially, their range is sufficient to reach Ben Gurion Airport outside Tel Aviv.
Are the Israelis sure that Syria and Hezbollah don’t have more modern missiles? Are they certain that Iran or Russia will not provide them such? The Russian defense minister was very angry on his visit to Tel Aviv to have been faced with an Israeli retaliatory air attack on a Syrian radar and missile position – as a welcome gift on landing in Israel. To his protests, his Israeli counterpart, Defense Minister Lieberman condescendingly said that Israel needed nobody’s advice in respect to Israel’s security. General Sergey Shoygu reportedly was not amused.
Can Israel come to terms with its new strategic situation? It seems not. Ibrahim Karagul, a Turkish political commentator and an authoritative voice of President Erdogan, writing in Yeni Safak, notes that “the foundations of a new disintegration [and] division are being laid in our region. Saudi Arabia’s ‘We are switching to moderate Islam’ announcement contains a dangerous game. The U.S.-Israel axis is forming a new regional front line.”
Karagul continues: “We have been watching the strange developments in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt, Israel and the U.S. for some time now. There is a new situation in the region, which we know is [principally aimed] against Iran; but has recently taken an open anti-Turkey state, aimed at limiting Turkey’s influence in the region … You will see, the ‘moderate Islam’ announcement will be immediately followed by a sudden and unexpected strengthening of Arab nationalism. This wave will not differentiate between Shiite or Sunni Arabs, but it will isolate the Muslim Arab world from the entire Muslim world.
“This separation will be felt most by the Shiite Arabs in Iraq. With this new block, Iraq and Iran are going to stage a new power showdown [i.e. will react forcefully to counter it]. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s future in power is also most likely going to [become contingent on the outcome to] this showdown.”
An American ‘Buy-in’
To give this project American “buy-in,” Israel and Saudi Arabia are focusing it on Lebanese Hezbollah, which the U.S. has declared to be a terrorist entity though the movement was part of Lebanon’s government, which was headed by Prime Minister Saad Hariri until he ominously resigned today in an announcement made in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Hariri is a dual Saudi-Lebanese national.)
Saudi State Minister for Gulf Affairs Thamer al-Sabhan (in Beirut last week) called for “toppling Hezbollah” and promised “astonishing” developments in “the coming days. Those who believe that my tweets are a personal stance, are delusional … the coming developments will definitely be astonishing.”
Al-Sabhan added that the kingdom’s escalation against Hezbollah could take several forms that would “definitely affect Lebanon. Politically, it might target the government’s relations with the world. At the economic and financial levels, it could target commercial exchange and funds, and militarily it might involve the possibility of a strike on Hizbullah by the U.S.-led coalition, which labels Hizbullah a terrorist organization.” (Comment: this latter point probably was made more in hope, than in expectation. Europe and the U.S. set considerable store on maintaining Lebanon as stable).
Karagul reflects further on this U.S.-Gulf-Israeli initiative:
“The moderate Islam project was tried the most in Turkey. We always said this is ‘American Islam’ and opposed it. The February 28 military intervention is the product of such a project. It was implemented by the U.S./Israel extreme right-wing and their partners on the inside. The Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) is the product of such a project, and the Dec. 17/25 and July 15 attacks were made for this very reason. They were all aimed at trapping Turkey within the U.S./Israel axis.
“But Turkey’s local and national resistance has overcome them all. Now they are burdening Saudi Arabia with the same mission. That is how they are making it appear. I do not think that it is possible for Saudi Arabia to undertake such a mission. This is impossible both in terms of the regime’s character and its social structure. This is impossible because of the ‘Israel/U.S. sauce’.
“The discourse of making the switch to moderate Islam will cause serious confusion in the Saudi administration and grave social reactions. The actual conflict is going to take place within Saudi Arabia. Also, the Riyadh administration has no chance of exporting something to the region or setting an example.
“Especially once it is further revealed that the project is security-based, that a new front line has been formed, that it is all planned by the U.S.-Israel, it will result in a fiasco. This project is suicide for Saudi Arabia, it is a destruction plan; it is a plan that will destroy it unless it comes to its senses.”
Karagul makes the point well: the attempt to make Islam in the Christian “Westphalian” image has a disastrous history. The metaphysics of Islam are not those of Christianity. And Saudi Arabia cannot be made “moderate” by Mohammad bin Salman just ordering it. It would entail a veritable cultural revolution to shift the basis of the kingdom, away from the rigors of Wahhabism to some secularized Islam.
Where is this taking the Middle East: to conflict? Maybe. But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is not noted for his audacity: he his noted more for rhetoric which often has proved empty; and Israeli security officials are being cautious, but both sides are preparing against the possibility of what Karagul calls a “great power showdown.” It looks, though – from this and other Turkish statements – as if Turkey will be with Iran and Iraq, and standing against America and Saudi Arabia.
And President Trump? He is wholly (and understandably) preoccupied with the low-intensity war being waged against him at home. He probably tells Netanyahu whatever it is that might advance his domestic battles (in Congress, where Netanyahu has influence). If Bibi wants a fiery speech at the U.N. berating Iran, then, why not? Trump can then call on the trifecta of White House generals to “fix it” (just as he did with JCPOA, passing it to Congress “to fix”), knowing that the generals do not want a war with Iran.
The danger is a “black swan.” What happens if Israel goes on attacking the Syrian army and industrial premises in Syria (which is happening almost daily) – and Syria does shoot down an Israeli jet?
Alastair Crooke is a former British diplomat who was a senior figure in British intelligence and in European Union diplomacy. He is the founder and director of the Conflicts Forum.
Since the Kurds and Israel are allies, the creation of an autonomous Kurdish region in Syria would be beneficial to both the Kurds and to Israel. I”m all for it.
Excellent analysis here:
I’d add to it that this is as much about Greater Israel and the Oded Yinon Plan as it is about Israel stealing Syrian, Palestinian, and Lebanese gas to sell on to Europe… lessening Russia’s role, of course, while making Genie Energy and Noble Gas wealthy along with the US taxpayer-subsidized Israelis.
Jewish money controls the American congress and the news media. They will do whatever the AIPAC leaders
tell them to do.
hope for the USA is only if we HELP the Russians DESTROY the CRAPPY little state of ISRAEL.
anything less either makes the USA a nuclear desert or a province of ZION!
The Russians are READY locked and loaded!!!
It’s too bad Israelis are such sore winners. Who won the Syrian war? They did. Everyone else lost. Saudis are discredited. Turkey’s army is a shambles, having dismissed its officers. Russia’s at full stretch. Iran is equally fully occupied. Hezbollah’s men are scattered across a thousand miles of desert. Hamas is cowed and cornered.
And Israel? Look at the change in Israel’s strategic position since the Syrian war started. 3000 Syrian tanks on the border? Gone. 400 combat aircraft- how many now? 300,000-strong Syrian army: poof.
What enemies does Israel have now, really?
Take that idea of Iranian bases in Syria. So Iran is going to have airfields. They could base fighters there!
… um… what fighters? Some of the leftovers from the Shah’s time?
A direct land route to Iran, so Iranian tanks could roll.
Iran has virtually none, certainly none when compared to Israel.
Israel’s enemies are scattered to the wind. It will be decades before they could possibly coalesce into a threat remotely on the level of the Syria that has fallen.
But Israel cannot get up from the table with its chips and go home, because it is advised and led by military men who will not get promotions without the steady drumbeat of war, if not war itself. They need enemies, and if they have none, will go to great lengths to invent some.
If the Syrians won’t cooperate, there are the Iranians; and if not the Iranians, perhaps the Russians.
You’ve constructed an interesting fantasy world. At least the Israelis understand a loss when they see one.
Increasingly what I hear is that Iranian reformists that were almost fully on the West’s side till Trump took office, are pressuring the Iranian theocracy to take a more decisive action and protect the country against US, Israeli and Saudi threats. Now it is getting interesting. Trump and company have managed to wake up nationalism in Iran, something mullahs just wished for with disappointment for years. With new cooked up CIA documents “showing” Iran’s ties to Al-Qaeda, Trump’s regime project seems to be in full swing. Add more economic and military pressure and Iran may decide that playing nice it is not worth it and work on a major deterrent.
is any country with a u.s. military base a u.s. colony? “..Dhahran Air Field Agreement ..permitted the U.S. to build a small air field near the Arabian American Oil Company (ARAMCO) town. The use of the term “air field”, as opposed to “air base” was a direct result of U.S. sensitivity of Saudi Arabia’s concerns regarding imperialism..”: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_Abdulaziz_Air_Base?
“..U.S. Military Now Has a Permanent Base in Israel ..U.S. troops have been in the Negev since 2009 operating an X-Band radar ..U.S. arms depots which have been there since the 1990s. Known as the War Reserve Stockpile Ammunition-Israel, or WRSA-I, these depots are U.S.-controlled, and the Israelis need American authorization to use any of these weapons..”: http://warisboring.com/the-u-s-military-now-has-a-permanent-base-in-israel/
story of newest u.s. fighter plane hit by decades old syrian missile in failed attempt to intimidate russian visit to israel? maybe worth checking out just for the animation of angry birds hitting the world’s most expensive plane? “..Is Israel Hiding That Its F-35 Warplane Was Hit By Syrian S-200 Missile?..”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fvrGfOVUm1I
Another comprehensive piece from Alastair Crooke. If Syria does shoot down an Israeli plane as Mr. Crooke asks at the end, perhaps it is justified with Netanyahu seemingly not wanting peace in the region.
Jerry Alatala- May I suggest trying to keep up. Lumping the current president in with a common war criminal such as Netanyahu: I think you are referring to the two previous USA presidents. The first of which technically lost his two elections in the same way as Clinton lost the primary against Sanders. These are your war criminals.
This is outstanding journalism, the likes of which is never seen in USA mainstream media outlets like Fox, CNN, WaPo, NYTimes, etc. I think the last actual news reporting being done in USA was during the Viet Nam war and, once the public saw the horrors of that unjust war and ended it, the deep state learned its lesson: no longer report what is really going on! Just have useful idiots like Thomas Friedman or David Brooks feed the public pulp fiction. But I digress. The one thing I disagree with is the observations about Israel being in trouble with the loss of the Syrian war. I Mr. Crooke mixing (very understandable) wishful thinking with reality? Israel is the only country in the ME with nukes; and as for its relationship with the USA, as time passes the American government seems to be more of an extension of the Israeli Knesset. The US government is increasingly dominated by Jewish interests and Zionist Jewish interests. This is certainly a victory of sorts for Israel, is it not? One example of this control over American government by Jewish lobbies is the wave of laws being passed on the federal and state level, these ‘anti BDS’ laws which require contractors seeking government work projects to sign laws promising not to support the Palestinian BDS boycott. This is happening for example in Texas now where contractors bidding on Houston rebuilding projects in the wake of hurricane Harvey must agree to sign a legal contract promising not to support Palestinian BDS measures. This not to mention the ongoing training junkets where US police and sheriff forces across the nation are being flown over to Israel to be trained by the IDF in tactics they use on Palestinians? In light of these developments I have to wonder who is in charge here? From all appearances I would say Israel is calling the shots, not Washington or the Pentagon. Oy vey!
If weapons were really the determinant then the US would have readily prevailed in the wars in which they clearly lost.
When the dust settles it’s the people of the land that determine the outcome. The “hearts and minds” bumper-sticker pitch really does have truth to it; sadly, the intent is never such, in which case failure is assured.
Either Israel ceases its goal of exterminating the Palestinians, or it, Israel, perishes.
It was pointed out by someone else in another discussion that Israel’s control over US policies is a bit overstated. Reason is is that the US has its goals and those goals benefit by aiding Israel. As I see it the US’s long-standing goal is to crush Russia, Russia being the only threat to US hegemony [China is a paper tiger]; that strategy requires controlling all the countries surrounding Russia (China is the only exception; here the US will look to sabotage China-Russia relations- it’s not working now, but I believe the efforts will be stepped up; whether it will ever work is one thing, but for sure, it’ll be the only real play available to the US). Along this swath lies countries that Israel wishes to upend: and then there’s the notion of it wishing to eventually control the entire area. There is, therefore, a mutual interest more so than it being one side controlling the other. Little consolation given that it all produces the same calamities (both outside AND inside the US).
While there are right wing factions that seek only to surround and provoke Russia and China, they are not helped much by the Mideast destabilization sought by Israel. Central Asia and Eastern Europe are too far from the Mideast to have direct effect, except in training radicals for Central Asia, the suppression of which in the Mideast is one of Russia’s main goals in the Mideast.
The US right wing warmongers seek to invent foreign threats and provoke incidents, and to threaten Russia, China, Korea, and Iran so as to build up their right wing and military forces, for a mutual threat game. This revival of the Cold War is intended to increase the budget and power of the US military, and to allow warmongering demagogues to pose with the flag as fake protectors and accuse their moral; superiors of disloyalty. That works every time, and is their highest ideal.
But Israel supports the US right wing encirclement game mainly to weaken Russia in the Mideast. They also gain in military aid from a warmongering US.
The control of zionists and Israel over US foreign policy is nearly total. They are the primary bribers of the Dems, and control nearly all US mass media.
Excellent comments. It seems to me that the role of weapons has changed, and it is some what different now. “Shock and Awe” treatment, the drone warfare, mother of all bombs; U.S./ West can kill tens of thousands without losing any of it’s own. They don’t care about destruction, how many they kill, and human pain and suffering they inflict on the helpless populations..
With the completely brainwashed populations in The West raised on heavy dozes of violence on the TV and in the streets too, there is no – so to speak – conscience or sensitivities to human pain and suffering left in individual human beings. In fact, The West have largely exported this violent culture to the Third World Countries with their dominant control over Media in the World. One can’t fault the populations only in “The West” who have been conditioned, but like Hitler’s Germany it’ is the leaders from Ruling Establishment, Media, Hollywood, Academia who are the real Villains.
Trump is a real face of what the Country has become. His election should be celebrated. I wonder why all these liberals have been crying over Trump’s election, yet have been supporting all this carnage in ME under Obama and much more of the same would have happened if Hillary had been elected. It is these elite liberals, supposedly educated, have well paying jobs and professions who are completely immune to the untold amount of pain and suffering inflicted on the populations beyond The West.
There is no argument of “US… benefit by aiding Israel” and its land thefts in the Mideast. The entire US campaign of Mideast warmongering for zionist bribes to politicians has been an unmitigated disaster for the US. Show us any gain that has resulted for the US!
We can leave out the discredited “petrodollar support” and “only Mideast democracy” concepts: the US can buy oil at the same price from whomever has it if we do not take sides, like everyone else, and not only has the US overthrown democracy in Iran, it does not support a democracy in Israel.
“One example of this control over American government by Jewish lobbies is the wave of laws being passed on the federal and state level, these ‘anti BDS’ laws”…Yes, deschutes, zionists have made great propaganda infiltration into the evangelical community. I had occasion to witness this on a stopover in Dublin during the election. I was staying at a home where a teacher from Texas(Ted Cruz supporter) was also staying with her daughter. We had a civil conversation about the election despite our different views and the subject of zionist influence came up.My critical take on AIPAC lobbying was received as though I was attacking all the biblical prophets. Our conversation ended in a cordial embrace to respect each others views but the lady was clearly shaken by my “heresy”.
Bob H – thanks for sharing your encounter with the evangelical lady from Texas. What is funny about the Christian fundies totally supporting Zionist Israel and AIPAC is that they are ‘useful idiots’ for Jews both in USA and Israel.
I’m a Christian fundamentalist and I have zero use for the US-led gangster Corporatocracy or Nazi Israel. The problem here is that everyone has accepted a definition of ‘fundamentalist’ which obliterates the actual meaning of the word. I actually adhere to the teachings of God’s prophets and Jesus Christ. Most self-professed Christians, who would say that they are faithful, do not. They are those who Jesus Christ told “Get away from me you workers of lawless, for I do not know you!”
You are definitely a kindred spirit to me. I used to swallow all the dreadful ” Plucky Israel” stuff that numbs the conscience of unthinking, indoctrinated but otherwise decent believers until I met missionaries reconciling Messianics and Palestinian Christians. Their clear exposition of scriptures that I’d hitherto mindless accepted years of blatant misinterpretation of was the kicker and I feel bitterly ashamed at how i got sucked into effectively collaborating with a blatantly unChristian oppression that we would condemn and sanction were it associated with any other nation (as we did with apartheid South Africa)
Yeah, but Christian fundies generally support Israel, i.e. the return of Jews to Palestine and the creation of Israel in 1948 because they see this as a prerequisite for the Second Coming of Jesus. The idea goes like this: Jews from all over the world return to the Holy Land, then Christ is reborn, then there is Armageddon, Christ is killed again and then he is resurrected and finally judges who is good and who is evil, sending the evil to Hell of course. The Jews are expected by the fundies to convert to Christianity in this prophecy. Would you disagree with this ‘Second Coming’ prophecy?
“terrorists – particularly those either members of the self-titled ‘Islamic State’ (ISIS) and Al Qaeda, or those inspired by such groups – are indoctrinated, radicalized, armed, funded, and supported by Washington, London, Brussels, and a collection of the West’s closest allies in the Middle East – namely Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Jordan, and Israel.
“It was in a leaked 2012 US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) memo that revealed the US and its allies’ intent to create what it called a “Salafist principality” in eastern Syria. The memo would explicitly state that:
“‘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).’
“On clarifying who these supporting powers were, the DIA memo would state:
“‘The West, Gulf countries, and Turkey support the opposition; while Russia, China, and Iran support the regime.’
“The ‘Salafist’ (Islamic) ‘principality’ (State) would indeed be created precisely in eastern Syria as US policymakers and their allies had set out to do. It would be branded as the ‘Islamic State’ and be used first to wage a more muscular proxy war against Damascus, and when that failed, to invite US military forces to intervene in the conflict directly.
“In 2014, in an e-mail between US Counselor to the President John Podesta and former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, it would be admitted that two of America’s closest regional allies – Saudi Arabia and Qatar – were providing financial and logistical support to ISIS.
“The e-mail, leaked to the public through Wikileaks, stated:
“‘…we need to use our diplomatic and more traditional intelligence assets to bring pressure on the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to [ISIS] and other radical Sunni groups in the region.’
“Despite admissions from the United States military and high-level politicians that ISIS was literally a creation of its own intentional foreign policy and perpetuated through state-sponsorship by America’s closest regional allies, both the administrations of President Barack Obama and President Trump would continue signing weapon deals, maintaining diplomatic ties, and strengthening military and economic cooperation with these state-sponsors of terror. […]
“In other words, the problem of ‘radical Islam’ is manufactured and perpetuated by the West. Without the money, weapons, and support provided by the US and Europe to nations like Saudi Arabia, their toxic political tools would quickly dull and be swept into the dustbin of human history. As seen in Syria itself, where hundreds of trucks per day from NATO territory are no longer able to supply ISIS positions within the country, ISIS is unable to sustain itself. It lacks genuine popular support in a region where the vast majority of Muslims, Christians, and the secular remain united against it and has no means of sustaining itself without immense and constant state sponsorship.
“‘Radical Islam,’ or Wahhabism is no different. Both continue to exist through the intentional and malicious foreign and domestic policy of Western governments and the special interests that influence them.”
The Truth About Radical Islam
By Tony Cartalucci
An August 2012 DIA report (written when the U.S. was monitoring weapons flows from Libya to Syria), said that the opposition in Syria was driven by al Qaeda and other extremist groups: “the Salafist, the Muslim Brotherhood, and AQI are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria.”
The “deterioration of the situation” was predicted to have “dire consequences” for Iraq, which included the “grave danger” of a terrorist “Islamic state”.
Some of the “dire consequences” are blacked out but the DIA warned one such consequence would be the “renewing facilitation of terrorist elements from all over the Arab world entering into Iraqi Arena.”
The heavily redacted DIA memo specifically mentions “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).”
To clarify just who these “supporting powers” were, mentioned in the document who sought the creation of a “Salafist principality,” the DIA memo explained:
“The West, Gulf countries, and Turkey support the opposition; while Russia, China, and Iran support the regime.”
The DIA memo clearly indicates when it was decided to transform US, Saudi, and Turkish-backed Al Qaeda affiliates into ISIS: the “Salafist” (Islamic) “principality” (State).
NATO member state Turkey has been directly supporting terrorism in Syria, and specifically, supporting ISIS.
In 2014, Germany’s international broadcaster Deutsche Welle’s reported “‘IS’ supply channels through Turkey.” DW exposed fleets of hundreds of trucks a day, passing unchallenged through Turkey’s border crossings with Syria, clearly bound for the defacto ISIS capital of Raqqa.
Starting in September 2015, Russian airpower in Syria successfully interdicted ISIS supply lines.
The usual suspects in Western media launched a relentless propaganda campaign against Russian support for Syria. The Atlantic Council’s Bellingcat disinformation operation started working overtime.
The propaganda effort culminated in the 4 April 2017 Khan Shaykhun false flag chemical incident in Idlib. Bellingcat’s Eliot Higgins and Dan Kaszeta have been paraded by “First Draft” coalition media “partners” in a vigorous effort to somehow implicate the Russians.
Did you see this Abe?:
“Bombshell Revelation of US and Saudi Culpability in Creating ISIS Ignored by Mainstream Media – and by the Team Trump” by James Jatras:
There’s more than meets the eye in the Qatari disclosure. It is partly an effort to establish some distance from Qatar’s role in promoting terrorism.
I nope no one is holding their breath waiting for Team Trump to hit back with the proof that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are the parents of ISIS, because weird uncle Donald is all on board.
Abe – An excellent article by Tony Cartalucci. Thanks for the post.
Alastair Crooke: another awesome analysis, thank you! How would I know what’s Really going on in the world? without your behind the scenes/between the lines analyses plus links to sources I otherwise would not find? I understand that you are based somewhere in Italy, a frequent destination of mine so I’ll be in Rome for a few days then an apt. in Florence 12/15-1/15 & would so love to meet up with you. In case, you’re so inclined, you can contact me at [email protected] JR
This is the first I have heard about the upcoming conference in Sochi. I haven’t even seen it mentioned on RT.
Of course it may have gotten some mention on RT, but they certainly aren’t playing it big. I wonder why?
This was a very interesting and informative piece by Alistair Crooke. Good comments, too.
Still, the situation seems very unclear to me. But maybe that’s inherent in real moments of transition, which this seems to be.
Fwiw, of all the players (pace the soon-to-be late, unlamented I.S.), the biggest loser seems to be Saudi Arabia – and it couldn’t have happened to nicer guys.
Beyond that, all I can say is, “Israel/U.S. sauce”?! Yuck, sounds awful.
Meant to say also that the situation now is that Syria has been partitioned and is now under illegal US occupation.
Pity you left out the elephant in the room the massive and increasing US occupation of Syria east of the Euphrates. Why?
Then there is another US base going up in the south at Al Tanf.
The US occupied areas will no doub be used to stage terrorist attacks on Syria and Iran.
Today’s news that Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri has bailed on Lebanon and rushed back into the bosom of the repulsive & repressive Saudis, may be a tell that the Saudis, Netanyahu and their ventriloquist dummy Trump are cooking up a provocation in Lebanon (with ripple effect on Iran & Syria) that will enable them to continue their murder & mayhem across the Middle East. Beware these sore losers in the 6-yr-long Syrian catastrophe they had engineered in the first place.
My first post is still in “moderation”, but here is some more material I just read at the “Moon of Alabama” site.
The miscalculated Saudi/U.S./Israeli plan against Hizbullah can be understood as a helpless tantrum after their defeat in Syria and Iraq.
The blogger there predicts Israel will not invade right off, but that it is hip-deep in the scheme to turn Lebanon into another Syria. It is the kind of C.S. thing they might do – wait and see how the wag-the-dog reacts.
All this could get mighty ugly. I don’t have a clue where the Russians stand on all of this – probably they want to stand clear of it all. But the Russian missile systems and their radars are now linked to national air defenses all over Syria. So far (according to reports I’ve read) Syria has been taking pot shots at Israeli jets with only the oldest of its old SAMs, but that could change at any time. And Syria owes Hezbollah, big time. If the Russian SAMs come under attack, I’ll say somebody just made an awful mistake, for that’s not something I think they’d overlook.
Sadly Lebanon is one of the 7 countries General Wesley Clarke revealed publicly in 2003 that the USA was going to attack. Iran and Sudan are the only two nations on the list that have not suffered a massive USA supported attack as in Libya, Iraq, Syria (USA supported terrorist armies), and Somalia (USA puppet Ethiopian Army). Iran and Sudan have suffered smaller USA sponsored attacks.
Contrary to your statement, only Iran remains free of violence from the AngloAmericanZionist empire.
Sudan was dismembered effective in 2011 when the “Darfur Crisis” led to the dismemberment of Sudand and the “Republic of South Sudan” was declared as an independent state. That abject chaos and bloodshed continues to reign in the AAZ created state is immaterial to the same-sided tag team of NeoCons and Liberal Interventionists; George Clooney and Co. have moved on to their next target(s).
Also, Sudan has aligned solidly with KSA, sending the largest contingent of mercenaries into the Yemen imbroglio.
Ergo, what was Sudan as of 2001 is no more; it was cut in two, and its ruling elites are now vassals of the AAZ empire.
Correct about Sudan but Iran has suffered attacks from CIA and Zionist supported groups besides having the USA navy shooting down a commercial airliner. Plus that whatever color it was revolution which failed unlike Kermit Roosevelt’s coup.
The danger is a “black swan.” What happens if Israel goes on attacking the Syrian army and industrial premises in Syria (which is happening almost daily) – and Syria does shoot down an Israeli jet?
Donald Trump was attempting to provoke a counter-attack leading to full-blown world war when he launched the 59 Tomahawk missiles in April. Thankfully for humanity, Syrians and their allies did not take the bait. In the same manner common among war criminals, Israeli Benjamin Netanyahu is attempting to provoke Syrian military leaders, most disturbingly at an increasing rate. Humanity must prevent escalation of violence in the Middle East, sparked by what was accurately described by Mr, Crooke as the historically dangerous “black swan event”. Coercive military actions are not only criminal but desperation-motived, based on special, exclusive agendas ignorant of the concept “… for the greatest good”, and spiritually bankrupt in choosing anachronistic war over evolutionary peace.
Jerry Alatalo – “Donald Trump was attempting to provoke a counter-attack leading to full-blown world war when he launched the 59 Tomahawk missiles in April.”
Donald Trump warned the Russians/Syrians that the missiles would be coming hours in advance, giving everyone the chance to get out of there. Some provocation! In fact, the airstrip wasn’t even damaged – they were flying planes out of there the very next day. Way to provoke, Donald (not)!
Donald Trump, IMHO, bombed the area because he was trying to deflect the full-blown political war that was being launched against him at home, right on good-ole U.S. soil, a war that has not let up.
The real provocation was coming from the people who set up the chemical attack in the first place (to make it look like Syria did it) and then egged on Donald Trump to retaliate. Wisely, he complied in a very limited fashion.
Trump might be loud-mouthed and lacking in vocabulary, but he’s not stupid.
Firstly, please provide the source(s) verifying Trump warned the Russians and Syrians. Are you asserting in other words Russians and Syrians were willfully participating in Trump “5-D Chess”? Secondly, any use of the word “wisely” in the same sentence as Trump, especially when his retaliation was a grave and dangerous violation of fundamental international law, displays a profound underestimation of the stakes involved, most importantly the potential for world war.
Evidently the Trumpies did speak to the Russians, who would have immediately notified the Syrians.
I’d expect you’re right in saying that “wisdom” isn’t a good word to describe Trump. If that was the outcome of one of his actions, a person would have to deduce it was an accident.
All discussion of this seems to have dried up, so to this day I don’t know if the extremely limited damage was due to lots of the missiles getting shot down, or some other reason.
People put much focus on Trump’s decisions, as if they are his own, when in reality it’s not Trump running the show, but instead the CIA/MIC apparatus. The information given to him is very filtered. He is the puppet of above said apparatus and that apparatus cannot survive without WAR.
For resources and geopolitical control.
While I agree with Mr. Cooke about all of this, I think we greatly underestimate the Zionists and what they will do to maintain Israeli and middle East hegemony.
Given the Zionists actions over the last half a century now, in theft of land not owned by them, with Palestine and the Golan Heights in Syria, I seriously doubt that Israel is going to go away and indeed it’s continued provocations in Syria is just Israeli ZIONISTS ‘begging for war’.
It was all show. Either the US’s military capabilities are extremely bad (obviously, they’re not as good as stated), which I find hard to believe, or it was meant as a “shot across the bow.” Later seems to have much greater weight.
I might be one of the last people to possibly defend Trump, but consider that ultimately the decision was authorized by him. The decision, which might have been forced upon him, was as the outcome suggests, “wise”- a full-blown attack (w/o any warning) would have turned really ugly, fast, and I’m pretty sure that even the “stupid” Generals knew that they wanted no part in getting Russia to come in on their tails.
Israel will never stop its endless aggression so long as it knows it can bomb Syria with impunity, as it has been doing for several years. It needs to know it will pay a price and there will be a response whenever it does so. A Scud missile will be fired at the airfield from which the attack is made. It doesn’t matter if it explodes harmlessly on empty ground. They need to be the ones in the cross hairs. They need to know they are living under the barrel of a gun.
The very fact that the conference is taking place in Russia is a tribute to Putin’s statesmanship. And the fact that the U.S. is not engaged in the peaceful negotiation process is a clear indication of the impotence of American diplomacy. As far as the announced impetus of Saudi Arabia towards “moderation” goes, if there were any credence in the announcement they would have started in Yemen.
I agree Bob with your analysis. Where Sochi should end this warring in Syria I can’t help but wonder to if this all encompassing meeting could be manhandled in some manner, as for the U.S./Israel & their Saudi allies to restart what they could not finish. Joe
Somehow Joe I believe American foreign policy has too many heads with no brains to coordinate a foreign policy that would disengage us from all the conflicts in the MidEast(even if they were motivated to do so). On the bright side(we’ll try to be optimistic), the same people vying for more belligerence have such big egos that they can’t agree on what to do next.
I’m more worried to what all those deadheads in DC will do, as they are all under the spell of Israeli bribes, and/or blackmail. Seriously, why wouldn’t the U.S. be glad that finally now ISIS is defeated, and this war in Syria and Iraq may becoming to an end? Well, before you answer that allow me to point out to you Netanyahu and his dreams of a Greater Israel, as if the first Israel was so great, as I digress. The U.S. is nothing but a gun for hire, and Israel has first right to it’s employment.
I don’t disagree,Joe…but as far as ISIS goes, i believe its likely to metamorphosize under another name, just like Al Qaeda has done in Syria and Yemen. The likely training ground is once again apt to be Saudi Arabia, which despite professing a transformation to a more moderate Islam is still the breeding ground for jihadists. Terrorists in Europe and the U.S. will continue to get their “inspiration” from US/Israeli policy.
Joe, your note that the “U.S. is nothing but a gun for hire” recalls the once-inescapable 1980s lyrics:
“You can’t start a fire without a spark
This gun’s for hire
Even if we’re just dancing in the dark”
The US is certainly the cheapest gun for hire in history, asking only a few billion in bribes and media control to steer trillions of war budget to kill millions of innocents for profit. All thanks to the economically-controlled fake democracy of the rich, whose mass media keep the US “dancing in the dark” in secret wars, fake elections, and betrayed ideals.
Perhaps Russia or China will be so kind as to simply buy out the US mass media, restore democracy to the US, and relieve us of the Israeli and KSA foreign agents in control of the USG.
Bob I agree, that we have not seen the last of terrorism, and as you stated the terrorist will reappear under a new name.
Sam we can only hope that if Russia or China brings down our American empire that they will reinstate the democracy we so loss.
BobH, Joe –
I agree with your excellent comments. I do want to add that one has to include the Western European Nations U.K., France and others into considerations as to where they stand in case Israel, SKA, indirectly backed up by U.S, actually do intervene in lebanon and may be Syria too . EU/NATO and U.S. are joined at the hip. The carnage going on the ME is a joint project of the Imperial Nations. Otherwise it would never have happened.
From the article: ‘It seems that matters are coming to a head in the Middle East. For many states, the coming period will likely prove to be the moment in which they determine their futures — as well as that for the region as a whole.”
Alastair Crooke is right on that.
And I think all these Imperial Powers in Europe must be be considering their options and actions behind the scenes. A lot will depend on what they do.
As the Turkish Journalist Karagul says in the quoted article Crown Prince Salman’s pronouncements about “Moderate Islam” are a sham. Russia is not fooled by these Saudis tactics. Putin’s Trip to Iran a few days ago tells something about it.
“I’m more worried to what all those deadheads in DC will do, as they are all under the spell of Israeli bribes, and/or blackmail. Seriously, why wouldn’t the U.S. be glad that finally now ISIS is defeated, and this war in Syria and Iraq may becoming to an end?”
Yes Joe. I am worried too about what the Ruling Establishment will do. The last thing they want is peace in the ME and in the World. The World is lucky that they have these two leaders Putin and Xi as the leaders of Russia and China at this very dangerous time in World History.
Dave it’s always good to have you join in on the conversation, as you add even more insight to what we are talking about.
Holy cow, Europe has a say? Well if Europe does have a say without the U.S. making Europe’s puppet mouth move, then that will be a new breakthrough for sure if Europe speaks it’s own mind.
Although since the U.S. imposed these new round of sanctions upon Russia and indirectly effecting Germany’s purchasing gas from Russia, well I have read of how the Germans are fuming big time with this latest U.S. trick to maneuver Russia into doing something stupid. It’s also a well known fact that German business is losing out not being able to trade with the Russians. Italy loss half of it’s export produce business not being able to sell their fruits and vegetables into Putin’s Russia. So when will Europe come to their senses and tell the U.S. and Israel that enough is enough, and we are through pursuing the empires goals.
If Europe should ever pull away from the U.S., Israel, and the City of London, then that would be the game changer of game changers. It is probably wishful thinking that this separation could occur, but then again stranger things have happened along the way of nations picking sides before the fight, and even sometimes while the fight was going on nations have switched sides, so don’t rule out anything.
Thanks David. Joe
For the US, the Middle East is secondary. It has been, and will continue to be, about Russia. The Middle East is about circling Russia. While the hardcore religious folks are aiming for and End of Times showdown (the big smackdown at the Temple Mount), the neocons are aiming for a final showdown with the only power that can challenge US hegemony: Russia. None of these “actors” can back down: the representative powers have no reverse gear; their very power is given by their ideological stances, and those stances have everything to do with that which I state. Sadly, Russia will be forced to do what it always has done: fight for its survival; which it has never failed at.
Very astute observation. A very likely scenario.
Disagree with Karagul’s analysis of “moderate Islam” and Crooke’s spin on it, too. I mean, the Ottomans themselves were generally regarded as “moderate,” including with relations with non-Muslims through the millet system, with all its imperfections.
And, Ataturk certainly was not “American-imposed.”
Why can’t the Saudis develop something more moderate, even if it takes using the point of a gun with a few Wahhabi clerics?
You cannot compare Turkey & Saudi Arabia just because both are Sunni Muslim countries.
Ataturk might not have been an “American” imposition, but I’d suggest he was put in place by the same people who imposed the Federal Reserve on America during the same era, along with the Round Table organisations and a bit later the CFR (RIIA in America). So effectively an “American” imposition given their tax-payers have very generously taken on the role of the Worlds Policeman beginning post WW1 and most definitely post WW2.
Do you have an iota of evidence to back that claim? If so, send it over.
Carrol Quigley’s “Anglo American Empire” is a book that covers it well. He was a CFR employee and recognised academic in the US.
correct title… “Anglo American Establishment.” Reading Quigley is a must to put all these pieces together.
Oop’s… it’s been a while since I read it, but it’s on the list to read again.
See: When Kemal Ataturk Recited Shema Yisrael: ‘It’s My Secret Prayer, Too,’ He Confessed. Halkin, Hillel. Forward; New York, N.Y. [New York, N.Y]28 Jan 1994: 1.
Why can’t the Saudis develop something more moderate?
This is a critical part, in my opinion.
Israel simply can’t rely on the loose-cannon Trump. And surely at least a few of the military people surrounding Trump resent Israel using the US forces as disposable bathroom sanitary materials. Surely a few of them remember the U.S.S. Liberty.
I’ve no idea what this is all about, but I sure can speculate. From a few days ago at the Moon of Alabama site:
Is The “Moderate Al-Qaeda” Set To Target Hizbullah?
As the essay says, the neocon NYT and WP have been doing yeoman work in trying to convince Americans that the people who engineered the 9/11 disaster are really not all that bad. “Moderates”, really. So a Saudi scheme to transport surviving head-choppers and burning-alive guys to Turkey would allow a “second front” against Lebanon. Throw a few hundred million or billion dollars in bribe money at the Turks, and the Saudi/Israeli scum are “in like Flynn”. The Good Terrorists attack in the North, and Holy Israel attacks in the South. The NYT and WP would swoon with delight.
Quite possibly the neocon faction of the CIA is in on the scheme as well. A barely reported event is the visit of a “senior” CIA fellow to Damascus for some reason or other.
In other words, when the Saudi/Israeli attack on Lebanon begins, Syria had damned well better keep out of it. The Israeli air force will be too busy slaughtering civilians to dodge any surface-to-air missiles from Syria. The implication to Syria with a visit of a “big name” CIA fellow is that the US is making the threat, not just him. Bluff? Real? We may soon find out.
The dreadful NYT and WP and the rest of the “mainstream media” are going to begin the endless chant that Hezbollah are terrorists, not defenders of Lebanon from the God’s Favorite Land Grabbers. Here is a hint of the strategy:
This is true X10 for Holy Israel.
It’s my opinion the “moderation” filter at this site needs some adjustment.
Interesting scenario. I’m not sure who would sponsor a northern front against Lebanon:
1. Syria must feel obliged to protect Hezbollah by now, so might rebuff any US threats;
2. Russia would not want AQ et al in Idlib endangering supply routes to their naval base;
3. Turkey was recently reported to be evacuating AQ et al from Idlib;
4. Turkey is buying $2 billion in S400s from Russia, perhaps to defend against Israel.
It would be interesting to know how many S-300/400s would knock out enough of Israel/KSA air forces, who can afford them and safely use them against such attacks, and when they will be in place. Also the relative cost of a US fighter sold to Israel/KSA versus enough SAMs to take it down.
It would also be interesting to know whether Russia may announce a strategic umbrella to protect its Mideast allies from any Israeli nuclear attack.
Yup, Russia is going to lay down the “law.” Been waiting for grownups to show up and it looks like it’ll finally happen. BUT… Israel is on a suicide mission (hasn’t it always?), and it very well may do something VERY stupid. Nature doesn’t support STUPID, so I suppose it’s either the end of Israel or a miracle of Israel actually joining the rest of the world community (and accepting that it deserves no more or no less than any other country).