Local Forces Who Defeated ISIS in Syria Defend Their Territory

The outcry against Trump’s decision to withdraw troops from Syria reveals an appetite for regional hegemony, writes As’ad AbuKhalil. It also minimizes the capacity of native militia to defend territory for which they fought and died.   

A Wise and Rare Decision

By As`ad AbuKhalil
Special to Consortium News

President Donald Trump’s announcement that he will withdraw 2000 U.S. troops from Syria has caused great alarm in elite circles. The New York Times and The Washington Post both warned it would leave Israel “abandoned” and “isolated” and would embolden enemies of the U.S.  Martin Indyk, a former Mideast envoy for Democratic administrations, complained that Trump did not factor in the national security interests of Israel.

Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state who lost the presidency to Trump, tweeted: “Actions have consequences, and whether we’re in Syria or not, the people who want to harm us are there & at war. Isolationism is weakness. Empowering ISIS is dangerous. Playing into Russia & Iran’s hands is foolish. This President is putting our national security at grave risk.”

Hollywood celebrities have also jumped into the act.

The strong reaction to Trump’s decision (which fulfills a campaign promise to disengage militarily from the Middle East) highlights his gap with a mainstream media and foreign policy establishment that supports a more aggressive U.S. military intervention in the Middle East. The only time these detractors ever strongly supported Trump was when he ordered the bombing of Syria. Establishment spokesman Farid Zakaria, a favored CNN host and pundit, said Trump had finally become “presidential.” The only reservation was that the bombing should have been more  massive. 

Clinicians treating injured rebel fighters and civilians in Aleppo; Oct. 5, 2012. (Scott Bobb)

The latest civilian death toll in Syria is over 107,000. The media has, by and large, disregarded the extent to which U.S. bombs have contributed to this enormous loss of life. When the history of the Syrian war is written, it is very likely that the destruction of Raqqa will be categorized as a U.S. war crime—to be added to the many war crimes committed by all sides in the protracted war.

Exaggerations of US Role  

The outcry against Trump’s withdrawal announcement include exaggerations of the role that 2000 U.S. troops played in defeating ISIS (which exclude personnel involved in covert actions).   

 In a Tweet, Rukmini Callimachi of The New York Times oddly attributed the loss of 99 percent of ISIS territory in Syria and Iraq to the work of the U.S.-led “coalition” (so broadly defined to include Sweden and Bahrain among others).  This estimate typically ignores the contributions and sacrifices of native Syrian, Lebanese and Iraqi fighters, many of whom are foes of the U.S.

While it can’t be determined mathematically the extent to which the U.S. and others contributed to the demise of ISIS, it is certain that the bulk of the fighting against ISIS—and the dying—was done by locals, the majority of whom opposed the U.S.

This was the case in Lebanon, where the fight against ISIS and al-Qaida, over the last two years, was carried out almost single-handedly by Hizbullah, which the U.S. State Department designates a terrorist organization. Similarly, Russia and its allies in Syria did most of the fighting against ISIS despite the contributions of pro-U.S. Kurdish militias and some rebel groups. 

The economic power of ISIS—in terms of the oil trade—was largely destroyed by Russian, not U.S., bombing.  In Iraq, the virtual collapse of the U.S.-trained Iraqi Army in June 2014, when Mosul was overrun, was a major factor in the rise of ISIS in Iraq and Syria and beyond. 

Qasem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. (Wikimedia)

In Iraq, the process of mobilization and recruitment against ISIS began with the formation of Hashd, or “mass,” militias formed at the behest of Ayatollah Sistani, the senior Iranian Shia cleric based in Iraq. Qasem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards became directly involved. While these natives fought back and destroyed ISIS in Iraq the U.S. provided air cover. Locals did the fighting and the dying.

Trump’s agenda poses a danger to the U.S. and the world. But the global agenda of the Democratic and Republican (establishment) is even more dangerous. It would expand wars in the Middle East and beyond. It would intensify U.S. enmities to places such as Russia, China, North Korea and Iran and abort any attempts at reconciliation. It would prevent the U.S. from leaving a military occupation. It would challenge the enemies of the U.S. and Israel with direct U.S. military projection of force throughout the Middle East. 

Presidents Obey the Military 

Trump’s fault, in the eyes of those who criticize his decision to withdraw troops from Syria, is that he did not follow the advice of his military. The notion that a president must follow military orders is entirely undemocratic. But since Sept. 11, 2001, it has been established—especially by Democrats—that the commander in chief should do just that.Thus, President Barack Obama went against his own views and agreed to expand the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan. 

Due to its strong popular support, the U.S. military often operates outside the reach of congressional supervision or public accountability. By occasionally challenging the generals, as with this decision to withdraw troops from Syria and Afghanistan, Trump has proven more politically courageous than Obama, who was afraid to defy the brass. (While Obama resisted his own foreign policy advisors’ pressures to intervene more deeply in Syria, the U.S. military at that time was less enthusiastic about intervention.)

Israel was clearly unhappy with Trump’s announcement of troop withdrawal from Syria, although Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was one of the few world leaders briefed by Trump before announcing his decision. (Is there a matter of any significance over which the U.S. president—whether Bush or Obama or Trump—does not brief Netanyahu?)

Clinton: Promised Middle East hegemony. (Gage Skidmore on Flickr)

To satisfy Israel, the U.S. must deploy troops in all Arab countries and to join Israel in its unending wars against the whole Arab world. (Paradoxically, Israel is loathed by the Arab people while cruel Arab despots in the Gulf—such as those leading Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Qatar—race to establish relations with Israel and often try to ingratiate themselves with the U.S. president and Congress.) 

Israel, through its powerful lobby, has been agitating for the U.S. to wage war on Iran, Syria, Hizbullah and the Palestinian territories.  And Western media—no matter how much Israel accumulates by way of its massive arsenal of WMDs, and no matter how much Israeli gives itself the right to bomb at will in Syria and Palestine—still treats Israel as a vulnerable entity in need of permanent U.S. military protection.

All of this explains why Clinton is more popular than Trump. She had promised more military hegemony in the Middle East. And she was just as enthusiastic as Trump about propping up Middle East despots. For instance, as secretary of state, Clinton supported Egyptian dictator Husni Mubarak at all costs. When Mubarak fell she wanted the head of the secret police, Omar Suleiman,  to be his successor. 

The underlying causes for U.S. withdrawals from Syria can’t be known and some wager it won’t pan out. But it is unlikely that it’s part of a large geo-strategic scheme on Trump’s part. Nor is the move likely to predict a U.S. strike on Iran. After two years in office, Trump is showing more self-confidence in his foreign policy decisions than when he started. It is likely that he will follow his original isolationist instincts.  Those instincts are at odds with the bipartisan consensus in D.C., which has heaped an avalanche of criticism upon one of the rare wise decisions of an often rash president.

ISIS is indeed on the run, and it has lost the bulk of its territorial base.  It retains some fighters in its remnants in Eastern Syria, but its ability to expand is drastically limited. The major enemies of ISIS—those who drove ISIS from most of its territory—remain on the ground in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. While overlooked by Western reporters and columnists, they are ready to go to war again to fight back an ISIS offensive.

As’ad AbuKhalil is a Lebanese-American professor of political science at California State University, Stanislaus. He is the author of the “Historical Dictionary of Lebanon” (1998), “Bin Laden, Islam and America’s New War on Terrorism (2002), and “The Battle for Saudi Arabia” (2004). He tweets as @asadabukhalil

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51 comments for “Local Forces Who Defeated ISIS in Syria Defend Their Territory

  1. January 6, 2019 at 2:51 pm

    “The underlying causes for U.S. withdrawals from Syria can’t be known and some wager it won’t pan out.” Can’t be know ‘absolutely’, I would think. I find the author contracitory on the subject of whether Israel is happy with Trump’s withdrawal. Is Trump becoming more confident in his foreign policy decision-making or not? The author pooh-poohs the idea that Trump’s move is part of some grander geo-political move. Others have noted that as a businessman, Trump sees is as reasonable to rationalize his position in the ME, holding up in Iraq – in that obscene base – from where, Trump himself has said, he can attack whoever whenever. That looks pretty geostrategic to me.

  2. vinnieoh
    January 2, 2019 at 3:20 pm

    I’ve composed at least three comments to this article and ditched all of them. I’ve read all the other comments, and the speculations and criticisms of US actions is covered quite completely (well, almost.) There are a few things the author alluded to in this piece though that need a finer point stated. In broad round numbers the total Muslim population (globally and ME regionally) is 80-20 or perhaps 75-25 percent Sunni/Shia. KSA, aping western merchandising efforts, portrays itself the center of Islam by dint of having the “holiest” Muslim places within its borders. I am not familiar with the original philosophizing of Wahab, but I do know that currently Wahhabi dogma asserts that Shiites are not really Muslim, but are apostates and “polytheists.” Whatever it started out as, one of the main goals of Wahhabi inspired jihad is the destruction of the Shia sect.

    The royal corrupt web of control in KSA wraps itself in religious piety, an endearing and enduring human trait, yet there is fear there that Shia Iran is seen on the Muslim street as the truer and more effective defender and promoter of Islam. After all, out of all of the nation states of the region it is Shia Iran that has eradicated the US from its sovereign soil. And, the only organizations that openly operate to resist Israeli operations (Hamas and Hezbollah) are funded and supported by Shia Iran. Ayatollah Khomeini proposed a rapprochement between the sects after the ’79 revolution but the Saudis were too jealous and arrogant to accept it. Would cede too much authority and legitimacy to the Shia.

    The US has always and only been in Syria to remove Assad from power. There are many statements on record from a myriad of US officials and functionaries that make this clear, subsequent denials notwithstanding. I wouldn’t hazard a guess as to the end game our war mongers envisioned, except that they probably never expected to lose, that Assad would fall, and we and ours would be constructing a new regime there from coughed-up hair balls and camel excrement. But the unthinkable happened; the window of opportunity that the authors of the PNAC identified suddenly closed, and Russia simply said “the multi-polar world is not quite dead.” So, all of the forces that the US aided and abetted and poured into Syria to overthrow Assad now find themselves the stranded assets of the losing side.

    But, our hegemons never quit, never say die, and would attempt to make lemonade out of the rotting lemons they’re holding. Turkey is in the unique position of having leverage with both the US and Russia, and that alone makes the situation of the Kurds more precarious. Russia, as an ally and military partner of Syria would do well to convince Assad to strike some sort of deal with the stranded Kurd forces on Syrian soil. But Russia really needs to remain on decent working terms with Turkey, which is hell-bent of course on crushing Kurdish ideas of nationalism or autonomy. The only equitable solution to the Kurdish “problem” would be the ceding of an affordable area from each of Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran to make up a Kurdish state, but this of course won’t happen.

    I expect that most Kurds are much more aware of US duplicity than the majority of Americans. They’ve been used and abused by the US, and under Reagan even aided Sadam in gassing them. It makes perfect sense to me that they would jump from the US camp to the Assad-Russia camp, and that alliance might give Turkey pause from embarking on their long-desired campaign of territorial conquest into Syria. But this is fraught with many booby-traps for Assad; no doubt many conduits of intelligence and command and control exist between US command and Kurdish fighters – whose side would they really be on? Any permanent Kurdish solution solely in Syria would have to be mutually and permanently reciprocal: Syria assures full rights and autonomy, and Kurds swear allegiance and mutual defense of the wider Syrian state which they would remain a part of. The situation they both are embroiled in would seem to urge upon them a pact of permanent mutual support and defense. And it is probably too much to expect, but we’ll see.

    No matter which way I look at it, it seems that the Kurdish “problem” being dropped in Assad’s lap is his booby-prize for having resisted US efforts at regime change. Whether by design or just the consequence of (US) military defeat – making a palatable drink from bitter fruit.

    • Skip Scott
      January 3, 2019 at 9:09 am

      Great analysis vinnieoh. It is a shame, but I believe the Kurds will have to make do. If Assad gives them some limited autonomy and protection from the Turks, I think that’s the best they can hope for at this point in time. Hopefully Putin will help keep the peace and quell Erdogan’s ambitions. The Kurds would be foolish to keep any ties with the USA.

  3. punkyboy
    January 1, 2019 at 11:47 am

    Hillary would know a thing or two about how “actions [and inactions] have consequences.” She needs to slink away and shut her mouth. And oh, how my heart bleeds, for poor, defenseless Israel being left on its own without stupid U.S. to come to its aid every whipstitch. I’m assuming people here have heard of the Israel Anti-boycott Act circulating in Congress – and already in force is 26 states, with 13 others pending. This is in retaliation for the BDS movement asking for boycott and disinvestment in the Israeli war machine. One woman, a teacher in Texas, has lost her job over refusing to sign this ridiculous oath of loyalty to Israel. We aren’t even (yet) required to sign a loyalty oath to America! And it’s anti-Semitic to suggest that the country that interferes most in our elections and government is not Russia – it’s Israel. Something very, very wrong going on here.

  4. December 31, 2018 at 2:50 pm

    Old Hillary threw the whole neocon arsenal at Trump:

    “Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state who lost the presidency to Trump, tweeted: “Actions have consequences, and whether we’re in Syria or not, the people who want to harm us are there & at war. Isolationism is weakness. Empowering ISIS is of dangerous. Playing into Russia & Iran’s hands is foolish. This President is putting our national security at grave risk.”

    She didn’t leave out very much. I interpret her remarks that people in the Middle East, those on the street, don’t like us. Isolation is a weakness but our expression involvement increasingly should be to bomb people who don’t like us and playing into Russian and Iranian hands can be interpreted that they are doing the right things and we are not, and as to the grave security risk that falls in the hair brained category if we don’t fight them over there we will have to fight over here.

    Unanswered is the proposition of how stupid does she think the American people are. That deserves a one to ten answer and it is not very flattering. Then again if we are bombarded daily with information that might make Hillary make sense, it is hard for ordinary folks to defend themselves.

    Happy New Year for people of good will

    Great article. Truth can be a real irritant to Hillary and her followers. Makes them think we are even more deplorable.

    • Skip Scott
      January 1, 2019 at 10:02 am

      “Actions have consequences, and whether we’re in Syria or not, the people who want to harm us are there & at war…”

      The obvious question is “Why do they want to harm us?” Could it be that our actions have consequences, and when you bomb innocent people and try to destroy their country they tend to resent it?

  5. December 30, 2018 at 9:14 pm

    I hope Trump sticks to this plan. The UK, and France should follow, and Turkey should negotiate with the Kurds.

  6. Regula
    December 30, 2018 at 8:41 pm

    Trump withdraws US troops from Syria and the IS establishment and media are in uproar: Trump’s move must be right. The US is $22.4t in debt. The world is dedollarizing, Treasuries have trouble finding buyers. The US to date spent $6t on wars in the ME and counting. The world and US economies are slowing – i. e. tanking. The US is fighting an economic war on the world and losing it. Bankruptcy is increasingly a possibility. So Trump does what every rational person knows has to be done: ending the excessively costly and equally useless wars overseas. And the pundits are howling: their income from the MIC is no longer guaranteed. Their privileges in danger of loss. They all knew that would come. But wanted Trimp to be at fault for the bankruptcy, not themselves. Their howled are meant to cover up the horror that Trump changed course and will not be the one who bankrupts the USA. Instead, any Dem. president who may follow him and who, after the outrage will be obliged to restore the war status quo ante, will be at fault, thereby losing Dem. chances for government for generations.

    No wonder they howl!

    As to Trump, he used the death of Russiagate with Steele’s testimony in London court, as an opportunity to do both: implicate his promised agenda and prevent US bankruptcy during his presidency. No, this was not a rash decision but a very intelligent change of direction that leaves him free to govern for work trade based on capitalism without the “neoliberal” hegemony imperative that favors war, when genuine world trade really requires peace: that is the lesson from China.

  7. Andrew Thomas
    December 30, 2018 at 7:17 pm

    Making the assumption that everything the article and comments on it about the deep state’s actions and its ludicrous representatives everywhere in the Democratic Party, the GOP and the corporatized press are 100% correct-and I think they are- attributing anything Trump does to wisdom is ridiculously wishful thinking. First, he talks openly about blowing “rocket man” and all of North Korea to kingdom come. Then, it is off to the Far East for a summit with its leader. This is followed by a bunch of silly statements, which is followed by putting Mike Pompeo in charge of working out the details. As anyone paying attention can tell, what that neoconservative tool is doing is trying to derail the whole process. Which is exactly what anyone with the wisdom of a turnip would have expected. The only hope it that anything will get accomplished there is that the South Korean leadership seems to finally be convinced that the entire US government is batshit crazy. Which is true. And, making the assumption that his reported conversation with Erdogan is correct as reported, he is turning the job of “finishing off ISIS “ over to a government that was as responsible for its existence as any except that of the US. Obviously, it will be great if the disengagement with the war in Syria, which will entail more than just removing the troops which have no legal right to be there- a fact neither Trump nor anyone else in the US government has ever spoken about. The US has no ability to do anything but harm, regardless of who the president is. But the way this lunatic bounces around, don’t be surprised if he does a 180 on this. He is utterly clueless. The fact that the mainstream opposition to him is utterly reprehensible with its false narratives nd crazed trust in the lying savages in the “intelligence community “ doesn’t give him any credit. You get that by doing the right thing for a right reason. We will wait in vain for such an event.

  8. Tom Kath
    December 30, 2018 at 7:10 pm

    The question of who are the most determined fighters is extremely relevant. It is overwhelmingly those who are DEFENDING their territory, families, and culture.- See Afghanistan & Yemen currently, and Russia historically. This will also give a good indication of the likely outcome of WW3. The aggressor on foreign territory is at a huge disadvantage.

  9. MA
    December 30, 2018 at 6:42 pm

    Am I banned from commenting on this site. Please confirm.

  10. December 30, 2018 at 6:24 pm

    it’s laughable when the media and war hawks like graham, clinton and the rest of the war party state that the goal of the u.s. in syria was to defeat isis, which as bardamu notes in a previous comment, was supported, funded and armed by…the u.s. !
    And the Israelis, Turks, Saudis, and beyond.
    The israelis did a lot more than just treat wounded isis terrorists, turkey provided a rat line for weapons and supplies, and the saudis provided more funding. the goal was to overthrow assad, and short of that, to partition and balkanize syria, a goal certainly not abandoned at this point.

  11. December 30, 2018 at 3:59 pm

    “The Tragedies of Militarism”

    The tragedies of militarism are destruction and death
    Countries destroyed and the people still alive, wept
    Their homes reduced to piles of smoking rubble
    Now they are homeless, with misery and trouble

    Invaders bombed and came to their countries
    Their sovereignty was trashed in vicious effrontery
    Criminal wars perpetrated by deadly war criminals
    They claimed to be “good guys,” but are they animals?

    Iraq was laid waste because of a nefarious lie
    “Weapons of mass destruction” was the war criminals cry
    Now that country is a hellhole of killing and violence
    And those that caused it all hide and cower, in their silence

    Libya was another war crime, called “bringing democracy”
    Its people were better off, before the arrival of western hypocrisy
    Now that country too, is a haven for bloodthirsty terrorists
    All brought about by NATO bombings and war criminals propagandists

    Syria also was a target of the war plotters and planners
    Regime change was their aim, and “democracy” was their banner
    A country was destroyed by western war criminals plotting
    And hundreds of thousands died in all the bloody fighting

    Afghanistan is another country that never invaded the West
    Now killings and war are making a horrific mess
    The mother of all bombs (MOAB) was dropped on this land
    And a chocolate cake “warrior” thought this was grand

    Yemen also is a country of war, bombings, deaths, and killing
    Hellish and horrendous, and for the war criminals “fulfilling”
    Famine and disease now haunts this poor impoverished land
    And misery and death inhabits its now bloodstained sand

    These are just some examples of what illegal wars have been bringing
    All these countries were better off, before the war criminals invasions and plotting
    Now the aforementioned places are victims of villainous barbarism
    A “gift” to them that could be called: “The Tragedies of Militarism”…

    [much more info on this at link below]
    http://graysinfo.blogspot.com/2018/12/the-tragedies-of-militarism.html

  12. Lucius Patrick
    December 30, 2018 at 11:41 am

    Where are my comments? Why did they change the comment policies? I never saw any spam problems worthy of mention before the recent censoring policy changes. Throwing the baby out with the bath water… Why not just go back to the way it was before, when there were no problems with the comments not showing? Maybe once a year someone would share how they make $5000 a week working nights… Much less trouble than reading all these comments complaining about the censorship changes.

    • December 31, 2018 at 2:03 pm

      In full agreement and will not donate again until this nonsense stops.

  13. Lucius Patrick
    December 30, 2018 at 11:06 am

    Trump as usual making good policy decisions and sticking with his campaign promises like nobody’s business. Although I did not agree with Trump placing our embassy in Jerusalem, the beauty of that is that it’s not the old two-faced lie that we are used to, “we favor neither side in the Palestine/Israel issue but hope for a two-state solution…” Trump’s honesty is as refreshing as an ocean squall. HRC’s defense of Israel’s bombing of Gaza’s citizens was sickening, as was Obama’s rearming of their stores and stockpiles when they ran low on bombs in the Gaza raids. Trump’s dealings are a welcome change. Obama ran on getting us out of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo; instead he involved us in invasions Syria, Yemen, and the destruction of Libya. HRC promised no-fly zones in Syria. Trump is full-on rocking the house like a 70s rock band fronting multiple lead guitarists.

    • anon
      December 30, 2018 at 6:24 pm

      There is zero evidence of Trump making any good policy decision or keeping any campaign promise, as you well know, with the single potential exception of the partial conditional minimal potential eventual Syria withdrawal. Do you really think anyone here would be fooled?

      • Lucius Patrick
        December 30, 2018 at 10:40 pm

        The wall, tax cuts, getting the garbage out of the FBI, no middle east wars, putting America first, tightening up trade, improving tariffs, quit footing the bill for NATO as well as other countries we are “protecting,” not paying for smog equipment in China and India (getting us out of the Paris climate accords), destroying Isis (it turns out he really knew more than the generals), travel bans on countries that pose terror threats, trying to repeal Obamacare… I could go on but I guess I made my point; historical record-breaking honesty and hard work from the President of the United States. Bam!

        • John
          December 31, 2018 at 8:39 am

          The wall is not built, and Mexico is not paying for it. Promise broken.

          Tax cuts are, in the long run, only for the wealthiest, there are tax hikes for the working class. Promise broken.

          There is plenty of garbage at the FBI still, probably more than before. Promise broken.

          War is escalating in Yemen, promise broken

          You cannot put America first while putting Israel and KSA first. Promise broken.

          Quit footing the bill for NATO. Promise broken.

          Oh helping to destroy the possibility of a livable planet for future generations? That promise he kept.

          Destroying Daesh? Russia, Hezbollah, Assad, Iran, and the Kurds did that. Nothing like taking credit for the work of others to bolster your credibility.

          Travel bans on countries that pose terror threats? KSA has no travel ban. Obviously this is a promise any rational person could see was broken. (Besides, right wing domestic terrorism has skyrocketed with his encouragement, and right wing domestic terror has ALWAYS been a FAR larger threat than foreign terror).

          You made the point that you are an Ill informed sycophant, no more.

          “Bam!”

          • Skip Scott
            December 31, 2018 at 12:30 pm

            Nicely done John. Good rebuttal.

        • anon
          December 31, 2018 at 9:10 am

          None of those acts significantly served the people of the US:

          These are falsehoods:
          destroying Isis, no middle east wars:

          These are concerned only with money for the rich:
          “quit footing the bill for NATO, tax cuts, trying to repeal Obamacare”

          These are poor efforts to balance trade:
          Mexico border “wall, putting America first, improving tariffs”

          These are concerned only with his political opposition:
          “garbage out of the FBI:”

          These are fairly neutral:
          “travel bans on countries that pose terror threats”

    • James Malan
      December 30, 2018 at 7:25 pm

      Well, looks like Graham and the MIC talked him out of it.

    • Michael
      December 30, 2018 at 7:45 pm

      from wikipedia “The Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995[1] is a public law of the United States passed by the post-Republican Revolution 104th Congress on October 23, 1995. The proposed law was adopted by the Senate (93–5),[2] and the House (374–37).[3] The Act became law without a presidential signature on November 8, 1995.
      The Act recognized Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel and called for Jerusalem to remain an undivided city. Its purpose was to set aside funds for the relocation of the Embassy of the United States in Israel from its location in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, by May 31, 1999. ”
      So Congress overwhelmingly moved the American Embassy to Jerusalem in 1995. Clinton, Baby Bush and Obama signed a waiver every six months for “National Security” so the move wasn’t implemented. “On June 5, 2017, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a resolution commemorating the 50th anniversary of reunification of Jerusalem by 90-0. The resolution reaffirmed the Jerusalem Embassy Act and called upon the President and all United States officials to abide by its provisions.” So Trump no longer signs the waiver and the Establishment goes wild! Typical Congressional games…

    • mbob
      December 30, 2018 at 10:38 pm

      Wow, you have guts. I fully agree with you, but hesitate to say such things “out loud.” I’m no Republican and never have been. Nor do I expect that I ever will be.

      But I’ve never seen a President more determined to fulfill his campaign promises than Trump.

      Moreover, Trump was right on the TPP, trade and tariffs. He’s been right on improving relations with N. Korea and Russia. He’s right to leave Syria and Afghanistan.

      That covers war and the economy: Trump is far better on those two “huge” issues than Clinton would have been.

      Trump is right about corporate media bias and hypocrisy too. There is no mainstream US “free press” to defend. Had a Democrat done half the things Trump has done, the guy would be hailed as a hero. As it is, Trump is d*mned and humiliated. He has neither Republican nor Democratic support and yet behaves, frankly, heroically. He’s better than most Democrats on most issues.

      If Trump would just advocate for Medicare for All (which he *has* praised in the past) and if he’d reverse course on climate change, he’d completely explode US politics.

      Democrats better impeach him before it’s too late.

  14. Peter
    December 30, 2018 at 8:25 am

    I hope Trump really is challenging the status quo. However, I am extremely skeptical. Trump’s moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem reveals his true colors. These true colors can never be erased. He is truly the Zionist’s Zionist. Trump IS the establishment. Trump IS the deep state. To think otherwise would be delusional folly. Trump’s entire presidency has been one of monumental deception. There is something so sinister afoot with this withdrawal. Something wicked this way come.
    The dog and pony show that is the establishment corporate media is engaged in an elaborate smoke and mirrors campaign to utterly befuddle the public. It is occurring in a myriad number of ways. The private school slave masters are at war with their slaves. War entails truths being guarded by a body guard of lies.
    Professor Abu Kahlil states in his last paragraph ISIS could come back to fight again. THAT is the most prophetic element of his piece here.

  15. MA
    December 30, 2018 at 8:07 am
  16. Jeff Harrison
    December 30, 2018 at 2:02 am

    The author is far too kind to the US. The US does not have any clear, obtainable, or even legitimate objectives in the Middle East. We started (theoretically) with a clear objective in Afghanistan but our approach wasn’t going to work even if we had executed it properly and we quickly abandoned the get bin Laden objective for the nation building ® objective. It’s been down hill ever since. As Will Rodgers said, when you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging. Regrettably we haven’t and the hole is bigger and the bottom is more quagmirey.

    The United States committed aggressive war on Iraq. We did the same thing to Iraq that Germany did to much of the world in WWII. That got their leaders on the docket after the war. The American leaders, not being prostrated in defeat like the Germans, however, avoided their fate. But the Americans are no better. We attacked Iraq without provocation ostensibly to remove Saddam Hussein from power because he was an evil dictator. While it is a true statement of fact that Hussein was an evil dictator, the US was fine with Hussein when he was dancing to our tune and we cozen up to any number of evil dictators without a twinge. So why did we do it? I can only guess but fundamentally we are all about acquiring power and keeping it and Shrub had a hard-on to prove he was tougher than Poppy. We did leave Iraq on time and had to stop our wonderful night raids but we were soon back and now the Iraqis are demanding that we leave. They were, of course, met with stony silence. We want Iraq as a base to attack Middle Eastern countries at will. No doubt this is to prop up the Theocrats in Jerusalem.

    Finally, we come to Syria. Our objective was to topple Assad. Why we would do that is beyond me. Assad as a compliant leader. He tortured some of our folks for us. I suppose it was done for Israel. Assad wouldn’t let Israel take over Syria and so they wanted him gone. The US appears to have thought that Assad was like our stooge in Cuba Fulgencio Batista. Castro pushed Batista out in like 6 months and at that point Castro was an amateur. But we apparently believed our own bullshit that ignored the fact that Assad had, our propaganda notwithstanding, been elected and had the support of the people in the country. Six months became 4 years and Assad asked Russia for help. Russia came in a kicked ass and took names of the anti-Assad types. The US wanted to stay in Syria because it puts the US in better position to prop up the regime in Jerusalem. But Russia has been giving Syria the equipment it needs to defend itself and the population is prepared to defend Syria. A tough combo to beat so the US retreated to Iraq. I don’t think that the US will find Iraq any more palatable.

    But you say that the natives defeated ISIS in Iraq while the US provided air cover. What was the point of the air cover? ISIS had no air force and the Iraqis weren’t attacking themselves nor were the Syrians. The only point of air power in Iraq is close air support. Are you suggesting that the US Air Force had Iran’s six?

    The real thing that you miss is that the US is making a full court press for global hegemony. Another point. Trump is indeed an isolationist but there’s isolationism and then there’s non-interventionism. While I’m not an isolationist, if that’s what it takes to get the US to stop intervening in every corner of the planet, I’m all for it.

    • Realist
      December 30, 2018 at 3:47 pm

      Like most Arab authors of pieces published in CN this one “is far too kind to the US” because they generally bend over backwards to appear reasonable and unbiased against Israel in an American media outlet. Actually, I give the guy credit for opening with a salvo of Hitlery’s own words that demolish her credibility and good sense to smithereens. The quotes attributed to her, the NYT and the WaPo conspicuously turn reality upon its head and establish the inside powers of the deep state to be nothing but hegemonic warmongers who are willing to put the future of human civilisation entirely at risk to claim an imaginary throne that rules the planet by fiat… from Jerusalem where Allfather Netanyahoo must be apprised of and give his blessing to every global diktat issued from Washington. I don’t think the author actually misses the zionist essentials here. Having said that, I agree with your elegantly organised and worded comments, as usual.

    • KiwiAntz
      December 30, 2018 at 5:10 pm

      Jeff I have to disagree with the first part of your comments in which you state that the US has no clear objectives in the Middle East? There is a clear objective & it goes from one Administration to the other & has been a decades long project? That objective is to keep the Middle East in never ending War, chaos & to keep those Nations divided, playing on their tribal & cultural differences & animosity’s! A divided Nation can be easily manipulated to service the needs of the US Warmongering racket of selling billions of dollars of Arms sales to both sides involved in the conflict? It’s all about WAR PROFITEERING as there is no clear strategy for peaceful outcomes factored into the equation as it never features as a end goal objective!

      • December 30, 2018 at 6:29 pm

        kiwiwantz–got that right ! as Conda-Liar Rice said, “it’s time to re-do the mideast”. chaos isn’t an unintended consequence–it’s policy–as the israelis say.

  17. December 30, 2018 at 1:48 am

    So now before a U.S. presidential decision takes place on “ending an illegal war and occupation” it first has to be submitted for pre-approval by not only Hillary and Democratic party war mongers, the Republican party war mongers, the NYTs and WAPO warmonger media establishment, freaking Bibi and the Israelis, but also a coterie of aging Hollywood stars who apparently simply love Israel too much to remain silent and risk peace breaking out in Syria. This is all getting a bit too predictable and grotesque to even attempt to satirize. The establishment narrative is obviously that – “illegal bombing = presidential,” while “ending illegal occupation = not presidential.” OK. I’m not sure where to go with that since it is patently absurd on its face.

    So if this collective institutional “resistance” to the Orange One actually acting as commander in chief in this matter is as real as it seems to be, there are only three likely long range outcomes that come to mind.

    A) Impeachment; B) Assassination; or C). The military-industrial-Wall Street complex simply rolls over, plays dead, and stops trying to foment war non-stop in every corner of the planet for a buck.

    I’m not a betting man, but personally I wouldn’t put my money on option (C) as being the most likely outcome here.

  18. December 29, 2018 at 11:51 pm

    I agree with Finian Cunningham. Trump is no hippie peace lover. He’s just a cheapskate who wants to get paid more for killing people.

    Trump Comes Clean… From World’s Policeman to Thug Running a Global Protection Racket

    • December 30, 2018 at 3:09 am

      I enjoy Finian Cunningham’s article about Trump exiting Syria. I agree with Cunningham that those on the Left and Right are not getting it though. Trump is rationalizing his forces in an effort to minimize costs without sacrificing geostrategic goals. Noam Chomsky (who seems to have gone establishment) and the establishment Antiwar.com is happy about Iraq showing some independence in regard to the United States, but I see no one, neither Trump nor commentators in the progressive / alt media, suggesting that there’s a problem with Trump using Iraq as a base for launching future attacks on assorted countries. So which is it?

    • Lucius Patrick
      December 30, 2018 at 11:21 am

      Well, since no one else is willing to pay for all the killing with their own money (except for the Saudis who got their Libyan prize from Obama, but their game has now slowed and is all too obvious), then Trump’s outcome is peace. Are you one of those “Never Trump” folks who doesn’t want a good deal?

      • O Society
        December 30, 2018 at 8:56 pm

        It does not matter who I am. What matters is Donald Trump is a celebrity reality TV game show host.

    • KiwiAntz
      December 30, 2018 at 5:27 pm

      Great article ‘O’ Society & oh so true in it’s statements that the US is not a Global Policeman but a Global thug running a protection racket for American Capitalism which is broke & can’t maintain its Empire & Military overreach? Trump is Don Corleone only doing things on the cheap by withdrawing from Syria, but having the capacity to return quickly with a rapid response mercenary Force from a Central hub in Iraq if needed? Hopefully Syria will put s300 missile systems on their border with Iraq to prevent this travesty of humanity called the US Mafia Govt & it’s murdering Military. Thanks for the link!

      • December 30, 2018 at 9:18 pm

        Indeed, Kiwi. The most recent SIPRI came out. It shows the rest of the world knows America for being merchants of death. Not sure the average American gets the idea people in other countries don’t call Americans heroes; rather, we are called killers. That’s what we’re known for. A WWF wrassling hall of famer so-called president and selling murder weapons. People don’t like us, much less worship us the way we pretend they do.

        https://opensociet.org/2018/12/11/us-dwarfs-rest-of-the-world-in-global-arms-industry/

    • O Society
      December 30, 2018 at 8:55 pm

      It does not matter who I am. What matters is Donald Trump is a celebrity reality TV game show host.

  19. Sam F
    December 29, 2018 at 10:08 pm

    If the US had any intention or capability to do more than choose sides for profit and kill and destroy for pleasure, it would have refused to engage in the Mideast further than diplomacy and development aid.

    But the US mass media have taught only fraud and vanity, and have destroyed any decency in its culture. Recovery of human values would require generations, and no move in that direction is possible. Unregulated economic power has destroyed what democracy and human decency it had, and so it must remain a dead tree in the forest of democracies, until recycled by greater powers.

  20. anon42
    December 29, 2018 at 9:49 pm

    While Isis has lost its “territorial base” it may remain indefinitely as an insurgency, and its enemies will be proxy insurgents against unity. The “coalition” has defeated stability as intended, to get zionist/MIC bribes to politicians. If the US continues to make itself the common enemy of all who do not bribe its politicians and infiltrate its secret agencies, it may accidentally have a reunifying effect as in Iraq. So it can retreat in the punk victory of random destruction of imaginary enemies, its zionist media and secret agencies claiming to have promoted democracy.

  21. bardamu
    December 29, 2018 at 9:16 pm

    It’s fascinating to watch the mix of confusion and hypocrisy in US entities taking credit for supposedly ridding Syria of ISIS. The US financed ISIS to at least $15bn US to begin with. More came from the Saudis, and more from the same five oil-bearing states that contributed heavily to the Clinton campaign in 2016.

    It’s hard to figure how many members of ISIS the US killed, surely, but what we really need is the number killed minus the amount produced plus the number of fighters against ISIS killed, including Syrians, Russians, Americans, and allied American mercenaries, all of whom wound up shooting at each other suspiciously often—-ISIS Killed – (Isis produced + anti-ISIS killed).

    I have to suspect that residents in Syria might want to subtract a general number Syrians killed as well.

    Of course, withdrawing puts the Kurds in the way of considerable harm. It might be more just to give them a home state out of one of the countries for which they fought–Israel, the US, or one of Clinton’s contributors, like Saudi Arabia or Kuwait. But that would require that some of the people for whom they fought should care in some way, and of course we know that is not the situation: that is how they got into battle to begin with. There is no point staying in Syria killing Kurds and other people pretending that this is to protect the Kurds, when the decision to throw the entire area into violent chaos and put all lives at stake was made years ago with the decision to fund mercenaries to topple a government just under Russia’s doorstep.

    • michael
      December 30, 2018 at 8:47 pm

      You have to remember that when Afghanistan had, for them, a progressive government even allowing girls and women to go to school, but the CIA set up the fundamentalist mujahideen to stop the Westernization, leading to the Soviet invasion and eventually 9/11. It seems the US (or CIA) is always working with crazed fundamentalist Wahhabi Sunnis, funded by the headchoppers in Saudi Arabia, to expand their religious headchopping ways in the MidEast and work against the more secular governments (like Syria, Iran and Iraq). The CIA was clearly propping up the ISIS headchoppers (the “rebels”; remember how outraged the West was over their decapitating journalists?) and providing cover against the Russians, Syrians and Iranians. ISIS will regroup inside Iraq (again with CIA and Saudi and Israeli help) unless they are exterminated by the Syrian allies. Turkey is also Sunni, but secular and has no love for ISIS (or Kurds). I miss the days when the CIA just propped up puppet dictators; religious fundamentalists easily get out of hand.

  22. December 29, 2018 at 7:34 pm

    Given the dates of recent events related to Syria, can one suggest a more plausible explanation for Donald Trump’s “shocking announcement”? Trump, as usual relying on a Twitter post instead of a policy speech to “inform” the American people, made his revelation on Wednesday December 19.

    On the following day, Thursday December 20, a 2-hour meeting was held at the United Nations focused on the White Helmets, where evidence was presented proving the so-called “rescue organization” – and winner of an Oscar at the Academy Awards for “Best Documentary” – is a terrorist war propaganda structure guilty of murder, theft, organ trafficking, embezzlement and all manner of horrific criminality.

    What if Trump had waited until Friday December 21 for his announcement? The United Nations meeting, which completely obliterated the reputation of the White Helmets, including those of its supporters … who surely know the brutal truth, would have most likely grabbed world headlines. One might reasonably suggest that Trump’s headline-grabbing announcement was timed intentionally to pre-empt and/or effectively bury the news bombshell represented by the United Nations meeting, coming the next day.

    Strong support for this theory comes in the form of total silence (now nine days of complete silence) since the December 20 meeting, in particular zero response whatsoever from Donald Trump, Mike Pompeo, John Bolton, Nikki Haley, Heather Nauert, the entire Western corporate media super-structure, the Academy Awards organization, and so forth, and so on.

    Peace.

    • Tom Kath
      December 30, 2018 at 12:22 am

      Surely a bit of a desperate connection, to suggest Trump’s Dec19 tweet was designed by him to hide the white helmet’s exposure.- MSM would certainly have found many other “NEWS” items that they ranked more sensational than the discrediting of this foul crew.
      I do agree quite plausibly with the plot, but not quite so with the blame.

    • john wilson
      December 30, 2018 at 7:15 am

      Well Jerry, the Americans should count themselves lucky as far as the white helmets are concerned. At least you don’t have them being cared for in your country. Over here in the UK our war mongering and very stupid prime minister, Mrs May, has actually given sanctuary to these terrorists giving them homes and generous state benefits. Young couples can’t even find a place to rent at reasonable prices, yet the white helmets are housed and financed at the expense of our own needy population.

  23. KiwiAntz
    December 29, 2018 at 6:51 pm

    Don’t fret US Govt & War cronies? If you can’t win the Regime change Wars on the ground, I’m sure HOLLYWOOD & it’s snowflake Liberals will come to your rescue & win the Wars for you on the Silver screen?? Hollywood’s fictitious portrayals from Black Hawk down, Zero dark thirty, American sniper etc & other propagandist movies of it’s elk prove the surefire fact that even when your the US Nation is a loser in real life wars, Hollywood will ensure that your a winner & win the conflicts on the Big screen using its special effects & CGI? Who knows, their might be another Rambo movie, Rambo 20, with Sylvester Stallone in Syria, fighting with the Kurds & mumbling in barely unintelligible tones, “I’m coming to get you Assad” or another Top Gun film with Tom Cruise as a aging Scientologist, Maverick, flying a F35 flying turkey, facing off against those dastardly Russkies again in the skies over Syria & evading those inferior s400 & hypersonic missile systems? Sounds like a solid Hollywood plan for the ultimate American BS propagandist movie of “fake it too you make it”!

    • December 30, 2018 at 2:44 am

      Lol! That’s exactly what Hollywood (meaning Hollywood/CIA/Pentagon/NSA) does. Hollywood is for the edification of those who control it. They make movies that ‘they’ will enjoy. Hollywood movies are, collectively, a mirror that is very unlike the mirror in Snow White. In that mirror, the evil Queen asked questions and only got answers she liked when they were also factual. When the facts changed, and she asked the same question – about her unrivalled beauty – the mirror told her that her beauty was not as great as another. If the evil queen in Snow White was as clever as those who control Hollywood, she would have ditched that mirror and somehow got herself a magic mirror that could mostly reflect her ugly visage, once it smoothed out the warts and blemishes. Just about all of Hollywood’s heroes are ‘trained’, as in ex American police, or military, or spook. Sometimes the hero has to torture or has done torture or mass murder or some such thing, but he (sometimes she) is always good nonetheless, because that’s the script. That hero saved the day, is nice to kids and old ladies and animals, because the hero is exceptional, like the United States who the hero is meant to symbolize.

      There’s lots of deliberate propaganda in Hollywood and tv scripts, to be sure (Tricia Jenkins, Tom Secker and Matthew Alford for example have written about it, as have others), but even without any real, substantial propaganda operation happening (especially movies that use military equip or deal with the CIA, triggering the quid quo pro deals) in this or that movie, you’ll find that they still reflect the twisted values and dark thinking of both those who inject propaganda into movies and those in Hollywood who support their intel community associates.

  24. bevin
    December 29, 2018 at 6:29 pm

    ” It would challenge the enemies of the U.S. and Israel with direct U.S. military projection of force throughout the Middle East. ”
    It would use its air power, certainly. Although for the first time in many years the extent of its air power is no longer unchallenged, that is what the spread of Russian Air Defence systems, such as the SS300 means.
    The Pentagon’s problem, and Hillary’s problem too is that it is not prepared to commit ground forces to its quest for global hegemony. Not its own anyway. It was extravagant for years with its lavish expenditure of jihadi lives, but the drawbacks of relying on wahhabi mercenaries and criminal gangs to act as the infantry are now too obvious to require explanation.
    In reality as As’ad abu Khalil notes, when it comes to fighting hard, just as Cromwell discovered, the best soldiers are those who believe in what they are doing and defending their families and communities while doing so.
    No American can possibly delude himself that fighting in Syria does him any good besides securing him an income. In fact I suspect that not even Israelis believe that stuff any more.
    All of which explains why the US loves coalitions–it gives them access to cannon fodder without access to the ballot box or the local media, bodies that can be buried before the planes leave for Dover. Just like the Hessians of old in fact.

    • Lucius Pat
      December 30, 2018 at 10:24 pm

      Absolutely! (That’s a big “if” though).

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