US Strategy to Oppose the Islamic State

The U.S. reaction to the developments we are currently witnessing in Syria and Iraq once again prove the American two-fold approach to the world.

It is not the first time that the U.S. has taken a two-pronged approach to engaging with terrorist groups. We remember in particular that American interactions with al-Qaida in Afghanistan took place under approximately the same conditions. The CIA created al-Qaida with the help of Saudi Arabia and several other countries in the region, and we have seen that the CIA has employed the same tactics even with the Taliban in northwestern Pakistan.

First, the CIA cultivated the Taliban and fortified it against the mujahedeen and the forces of Shaheed Rabbani. Later, however, we saw the events of Sept. 11 occur. Thus, the dual approach the Americans use with terrorist groups is nothing new; it is the same in other places. The U.S. has followed the same policy in regards to the Muslim Brotherhood, the Libyan revolutionaries and even the group al-Shabab in Somalia. They have now brought the situation to such a point that it is out of control.

Now, the Islamic State’s turn has arrived. The Islamic State was active in Syria for about two and a half years. For a while now, the Islamic State has been able to expand its terrorist activities, which have become the object of support from a political perspective. The Arab League, the U.N. Security Council and the U.S. have all chosen to remain silent on this issue. Meanwhile, they have given them large sums of money and supported them financially and with propaganda.

This shows that America’s strategy apparently takes the following form: First, it lets loose terrorist groups and uses them to its advantage. Then it clashes with them. Once the clashes begin, the possibility of controlling them dissolves, because these youths are dispatched to highly volatile regions like Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. During this time, equipment, weapons and financial benefits are given to them, and they commit bloody crimes this way, with the ability to keep them in check lost.

America’s interactions with the Islamic State are, for me, extremely questionable. In this regard, the Islamic State’s clashes with Iraqi Kurdistan clarify the matter somewhat. There are two possible ways to interpret this situation: First, the Islamic State has really fallen out with Iraqi Kurdistan over the profits and distribution of wealth and spoils, since they had nothing in common except a mutual enmity for al-Maliki. In terms of religion, principles and even ethnicity, there is no affinity in their outlooks. Alternatively, it could be that this movement is a kind of decoy to provide the pretext for NATO forces to enter the fray and for America and Turkey to intervene. This is just as we see that a number of countries have pledged their readiness to get involved in this area. This involvement could also take two forms: first, getting payback for the expulsion of American forces and those of its allies from Iraq, after Iraq signed security contracts with the U.S. which did not allow the Americans to have a base in the northern part of the country — at that time, under al-Maliki. By entering via Kurdistan, Washington wants to reprise its military role, and by establishing a base in Iraqi Kurdistan, it hopes to maintain a presence in the region.

Secondly, U.S. involvement could also take the form of encouraging Kurdistan to separate from Iraq. Finally, with extensive presence of foreign troops in northern Iraq and consequently, political and military support – keeping in mind the fact that the Kurds are seeking to hold a referendum regarding separation from Iraq – they could, from a position of de facto separation, announce their separation with relative ease.

Despite all this, Iran’s consultations with Iraqi officials, whether in Baghdad or in Erbil, about the issue of a divided Iraq and support for the current political regime there, have been successful; as such, America’s position has shifted slightly. As a result, it seems that the U.S. has realized that the conditions are not in its favor and if the Islamic State’s activities in Iraq and Syria continue as they are, that situation would be untenable for Americans. Meanwhile, if America is serious on this issue, it should cut off its financial support for them, shut down their training centers and weapons factories, and then claim that it intends to fight terrorism and stop the Islamic State.

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