According to Gen. Jean-Bernard Pinatel, it took the attacks of Nov. 13 to make the United States stop its double game with Daesh,* opening the door to François Hollande forming a grand coalition against the Islamic State.
The focal point of the American strategy, the aim of which is to maintain the global supremacy that the U.S. acquired in 1990 after the collapse of the USSR, is to stop the only alliance that can challenge it: the alliance between Europe and Russia. To this end, the U.S. has not stopped provoking Russia, trying to extend NATO up to the latter’s borders, even looking to incorporate Georgia — Stalin’s homeland — and Ukraine, where Kiev is the historic capital of the early Russian Empire. Both Georgia (through Mikheil Saakashvili, CIA agent-turned-head of state) and Ukraine (by providing funds and financial support to anti-Russia parties) have provoked Russia with the aim of establishing a “cold war” in Europe. They almost succeeded after Russia’s reaction in Crimea and the rebellion in the Donbass, leading to Europe imposing economic sanctions against its own interests and showing more signs of a cold war in Europe.
But in the Middle East, on Europe’s eastern gateway, the U.S. of Bush and Obama has made several strategic errors that risk jeopardizing its main objective: preventing the creation of “Eurasia.”
It completely underestimated the threat of Salafi Islam, which Bush exacerbated with the war in and then occupation of Iraq between 2003 and 2011, and by its support of al-Maliki, a corrupt and sectarian prime minister whom it installed as Iraq’s head of state in 2006 and supported until 2014.
When the Islamic State group declared itself, the U.S. once again underestimated the threat that it posed and as usual implemented a “containment” policy based around peripheral air strikes. This proved to be ineffective because the U.S. didn’t consider the political conditions of this policy’s success. Indeed, the U.S. didn’t consider the risk of angering its allies in the region: Erdoğan’s Turkey, a NATO member, and Saudi Arabia, both of which support Daesh. And so throughout 2014 and 2015, the Islamic State group has been able to continue exporting its oil to Turkey with complete impunity, obtain fresh supplies of weapons and munitions there, and treat its injured there, as well as receiving funds through Saudi Arabia, which has become the world’s primary money-laundering destination thanks to the opacity of its banks.
During the summer of 2015, while Assad’s armies were retreating on all fronts, only Vladimir Putin saw the risks of the imminent fall of Damascus and the consequences that would affect the Russian Federation’s Muslim population, and he decided to intervene heavily in early September, allowing the Syrian army to retake the offensive.
In one weekend, the Paris attacks showed the leaders of France that continuing to follow America’s policy in the Middle East would lead Paris and France to be torn apart. One weekend was enough for François Hollande to abandon the strategy of “neither Assad nor Daesh,” of which he had been the most ardent advocate, and instead reach out to Putin, to whom he had refused to deliver the Mistral warship barely six months ago. The Russian leader very astutely acted as if there had never been any issues between France and Russia, and gave the order to his forces and intelligence services to immediately and unreservedly cooperate with France.
For the first time, Obama thus finds himself confronted with the major risk of seeing France and the French realize that Russia is their best ally when faced with the threat of Salafi terrorism.
Consequently, he has a crucial strategic choice in front of him:
– Continue placating Turkey and Saudi Arabia, all the while intensifying air strikes against Daesh oil resources in the hopes that there will be no more bloody attacks in France and Europe for the two to three years needed to eradicate the Islamic State group;
– Twist Erdoğan and Saudi Arabia’s arms so that the former closes his borders and the latter stops laundering money, at the risk of irritating these two allies, which are already retreating in the wake of Obama’s rapprochement with Iran. In this case, the coalition’s coordinated efforts can succeed in quickly defeating the Islamic State group.
In the first instance, Obama risks endangering the core of his global strategy — preventing the creation of Eurasia. In the second instance, he is only jeopardizing his regional strategy without it having any effect on his energy supply, since the U.S. is nearing self-sufficiency in terms of oil and shale gas.
François Hollande therefore holds all the trump cards for demanding that Obama opt to create the political conditions needed to rapidly defeat Daesh, so as not to jeopardize the global strategy that the U.S. has been guiding since 1990.
* Editor’s Note: Daesh is more frequently known as the Islamic State group. This author has chosen to use another common name, currently growing in popularity, which is a loose acronym of the Arabic name of the group.