In a message issued yesterday, President Barack Obama announced that his country will lead a broad coalition that will include American military operations in Syria and Iraq in order to remove the Islamic State from wherever it may be, by using our air power and our support to the allied forces on the ground. Among other actions, the president announced the sending of 475 troops to Iraq in order to support and equip Iraqi and Kurdish forces, as well as training and arming the moderate Syrian rebels in their fight against the Islamic State; he claimed that, contrary to what happened in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2011 and 2013, in this campaign, the United States will not deploy combat troops on the ground.
Formulated on the eve of the anniversary — today — of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 in New York and Washington, D.C., the message shows the persistence of the White House, no matter who the occupant may be, in a distorted and misleading view of the Islamic world phenomenon in general and the emergence of that jihadi group in particular. As an example, Washington ignores, or at least tries to ignore, its own direct and indirect responsibilities in the creation of the Islamic State, al-Qaida and other expressions of violent fundamentalism.
The announcement of the start of aerial military operations in Iraq and Syria forces us to recall that it was precisely the warlike adventures that were started in these and other countries by Obama’s predecessors that have sown the multiple factors of anti-American and anti-Western animosity in the region. At the same time, they have destroyed elements of stability and the limitation on the proliferation of fundamentalist groups. It should be remembered that one of the main pillars of this phenomenon was the overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s regime by the government of George W. Bush, which led to the political fragmentation and the loss of control of the Iraqi territory, and which spawned a breeding ground for the proliferation of fundamentalist groups like al-Qaida in Iraq.
To this can be added the evidence, increasingly numerous and documented, that the United States deliberately influenced the emergence and strengthening of the Islamic State through military support provided to armed rebel groups in Syria. The truth is that the fundamentalist factions in that country, and in Iraq, could have been the main beneficiaries of military aid from Washington and its allies, as happened in the ‘80s with the support provided by the Reagan administration to fundamentalist splinter groups in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union. And it could happen again in the near future, in light of the support offered by Obama to armed Kurdish organizations, which until very recently were on the list of terrorist organizations drawn up by the United States.
Moreover, yesterday’s announcement largely blurs the United States’ policy in the region, established by previous administrations and which Obama has systematically followed. Indeed, however much the current occupant of the White House may say that the actions announced yesterday do not imply an alliance with the Syrian regime of Bashar Assad, the mere fact of launching a military campaign against the Islamic State, the declared enemy of the governments of Syria, Iran and Russia, places America on the same side.
The fact is that Obama announced the formation of a wide coalition of countries and of irregular armed groups without having, by what can be inferred, a clear partnership policy, and it is doubtful that such an adventure will have the results anticipated by the American president. On the contrary, judging by the background, the American military attacks in the Middle East, the Persian Gulf and Asia Minor (whether by land, by air, by sea or all three) have left, in addition to the incalculable consequences in terms of human and material destruction, new and more virulent historical grudges that sooner or later will materialize in increasingly hostile and violent groups. And there is no reason to believe that this time things will be any different.