24.09.2014 Author: Viktor Titov

Syria: White House is Gambling with US Security

435345The United States along with it its regional allies started bombing Syria on September 22, which has put the Middle East region on the brink of a new major conflict. The US plan of carrying out aerial bombardments against militants of the Islamic state in Syria was supported by five Arab states – the UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Bahrain. American aircraft attacked at least 20 locations. Meanwhile, the role of Arab allies in this operation remains unclear. Obama stated on a press conference that “we were joined in this action by our friends & partners.” Yesterday bombs were falling on a large list of different targets: command and control centers, training camps and weapons stockpiles. The US Dept of Defense is using Rockwell B-1, F-16 and F-18 fighters along with MQ-1 Predator drones.

Syrian Foreign Ministry released a statement on September 23, saying that the United States notified Syria’s UN representative about the air strikes. Pentagon Press Secretary and Spokesman John Kirby announced earlier that “US military and partner nation forces have begun striking ISIL targets in Syria using mix of fighters, bombers and Tomahawk missiles. However, Kirby refused to provide details on the progress of the operation. As you may know, at the beginning of August US President Barack Obama approved air raids  against the Islamists in Iraq. While announcing his strategy of countering the Islamic state on September 11 Obama announced that US Air Force will be operating both in Iraq and in Syria.

However, informing does not constitute obtaining consent from Syrian officials. It’s no coincidence that late in the evening on September 22 Russia’s President Vladimir Putin said to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon over the phone that it is imperative that all air strikes against terrorists in Syria must be coordinated with Syrian authorities. Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that:

“In connection with the missile and air strikes on the positions of the terrorist organisation the Islamic State in Syria, launched by the United States with support from a number of other countries, Russia would like to note that such actions can be carried out only within the framework of international law.

This implies not a formal unilateral notification of the strikes, but the existence of explicit consent of the Syrian government.”

Thus, the scope of the US military operation against the Islamic state went far beyond Iraq. The Islamists have already responded to the actions of Washington, London and Paris. First, they have executed a British hostage in Iraq and, as usual, they posted the video of execution on the Internet. Yesteday ISIL allies kidnapped a French citizen in Algeria. So we can be expecting similar actions against other countries involved in this operation against the Islamic state. Moreover the Ilsamist leaders have repeatedly warned the world leaders that their fellow citizens can become possible targets of terrorist attacks. So it’s only logical that security measures were enhanced in British airports, and all across France, while state institution buildings were provided with additional security  guards.

The absurdity of the US actions is evident. No one is capable of destroying the Islamic state with air and rocket strikes alone. This will require a full scale ground operation, that should be taking advantage of the powerful multi-national military contingent as the Iraqi army along with Kurdish military units are unable to suppress Islamists, the numbers of the latter is closing to one thousand militants. American strikes against Syria has only led to new waves of Kurdish refugees rushing to neighboring Turkey. Under these conditions, the militants of the Islamic state cam change their tactics, starting a new campaign against Baghdad or starting to carry out terrorist attacks in the United States, on Europe, or on the soil of those Arab states that have taken the side of Washington. Such clumsy actions of the White House are only adding  fuel to the conflict with ISIL in Iraq and now in Syria, since no effective international coalition force has been created, and such coalition can only be achieved with the participation of Russia, Iran and Syria.

It is obvious that Obama is not about fighting the Islamists, he is simply trying to increase his critically low approval rating within the country in the light of the upcoming Congress elections. He chose to show the American public a “tough guy”, especially against the backdrop the utter failure of the US policy in Ukraine that relied on the brute force scenario in the Donbass. They pushed just to get exact same scenario as in Iraq – in both cases government troops turned out to be helpless. But since Washington and NATO couldn’t afford bombing the positions of the militia of Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, knowing all to well how it may end, they decided to launch an attack on Syria.  Syrian army has been fighting the US backed islamists for three year now, so the US think tanks assumed it wouldn’t be able to provide an adequate answer to the American Air Force. The White House has decided to embark on yet another military adventure. The “effectiveness” of US strikes has already become apparent, the first 50 air strikes have only led to the deaths of 20 militants of the Islamic state, leaving eight civilians dead, including three children. A number of administrative buildings in the northern part of Rakka. If the US military campaign continues at the same pace, then two weeks later Americans will simply run out of bombs and missiles worth hundreds of millions of dollars. And all this sabre rattling goes at the expense of the US taxpayers.

But if the Islamic state islamists and their allies will carry out a number terrorist attacks in the United States and Europe, then no one would doubt the thinking behind them. And then Obama should not be surprised if he’s going be be impeached. One thing is to kill Arabs and Muslims thousand miles from home, the other is to wage war on terrorism on the American or European soils. But it seems that the American president is less aware of the possible consequences of his adventurous actions in the Middle East.

Viktor TitovPh.D in Historical Sciences and political commentator on the Middle East, exclusively for the online magazine New Eastern Outlook