22.10.2014 Author: Henry Kamens

Nexus: “US and ISIL” – a New and Disturbing Turn in Proxy Warfare

345353454It has taken a bit of time, but a few journalists in the region are finally starting to connect the dots. Among these is Mehmet Ali Güller, an Aydınlık newspaper columnist, who is reflecting on some of the questions being discussed in the Turkish media.

Another Turkish journalist, Ahmet Hakan of the Hürriyet newspaper, who has tried to disprove the claims of a relationship between the USA and ISIS, has asked two questions:

  1. Why did the US withdraw from Iraq if it were so bloodthirsty as to create ISIS?

  2. Why did the US not interfere directly in Syria if it was yearning to interfere in the region?”

Belarus and Ukraine maintained their own seats at the United Nations from the date of its foundation right through to the fall of the Soviet Union. Those defending that situation would ask, “if they are not really independent states, why do they have UN representation?” Unfortunately Hakan’s questions and arguments are on the same level.

Guller has responded by citing what is happening on the ground and what the US military themselves are saying about it, which the millions of dispossessed who have seen their homes destroyed are more likely to recognise as a legitimate picture.

The facts where the boots are not

The so-called Islamic State has the upper hand in the current conflict, backed by American weapons and training (which was once acknowledged – Tarkhan Batirashvili, the Chechen ISIL General now presented as a military genius, and others were armed and trained under an anti-terrorism programme!) and funded by NGO proceeds siphoned off and oil sales on global markets. It is very strange that energy boycotts can be imposed on other states by lesser powers but the US is blind to where the ISIL oil is coming from and unable to stop it being sold, despite the laws against providing material support for terrorists.

The bombing the US and its allies are undertaking can only be for show. The only way gains will be made, if they are actually intended, is to get boots on the ground, which the US and allies are refusing to do. The US clearly knows this, as it does not hesitate to send in those boots when it actually wants to get things done – Desert Storm, Afghanistan: there are any number of examples. That is why most countries now have an equivalent of the phrase used to describe American troops during the Second World War – “overpaid, oversexed and over here”.

The battle for Kobani in Syria, a Kurdish stronghold, is not going well. The Iraqi Army west of Baghdad has proved it is not prepared to fight better motivated and equipped troops. As has been pointed out, joining the “army” is the only way many Iraqi can obtain a steady income and extort a higher one. People with such a mindset do not wish to exchange such a life for actual fighting.

The Kurds trying to hold out at Kobani, the people the US claim to be supporting, are likely to be sacrificed for broader objectives. This is demonstrated by the fact that senior US officials are trying to explain away the failure to save the Syrian Kurds in the town while they are still fighting.

US Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken has said, “Our focus in Syria is in degrading the capacity of [ISIL] at its core to project power, to command itself, to sustain itself, to resource itself. The tragic reality is that in the course of doing that there are going to be places like Kobani where we may or may not be able to fight effectively.” What this means is that the US will not try and defeat ISIL militarily but try to undermine it from within – which it could do overnight if it actually wanted to, as it fights according to the US manuals it learnt from.

So the US is not actually supporting the non-ISIL Kurds but using ISIL to achieve certain ends of its own. When ISIL has done this it will suddenly be defeated, or so the US thinks, and the present bombing campaign will be presented as the first stage of an ultimately victorious campaign to restore democracy. However it will be “democracy” on US terms – with a new map, new people in government and new “defence agreements” which prepare the next generation of conflicts.

The same thing has verifiably happened in every region the US has been involved in recent timers – except one. Maybe that is part of what this present campaign is actually about.

Why and where

Guller himself may not realise it, but his comments serve a dual purpose. Previously, claims that the USA created ISIL were dismissed and not debated. Now they are being brought out into the open, we are not merely supposed to be scandalised. We are being encouraged to recognise the truth in order to magnify the threat ISIL was inserted to pose.

The international media reported in early October that Batirashvili has promised his father that he will enter Georgia with thousands of his warriors in the not-too-distant future and that “Russia will be next”. If it is “only” ISIL entering these countries this is one thing, though a bad enough thing. Now the link with the US is being openly spoken about, it means the US is also coming, by proxy, and will use all its resources to achieve its ends, whatever it may say to the contrary.

One of the first things you learn in journalism is that few things happen by happenstance. Attempts to threaten and involve other countries in the actions of ISIL suggest that a larger regional war has been planned, with the potential to involve Turkey and Georgia, who will be expected by the US to play their “proper part” in exchange for not being destroyed by ISIL at the US’s bidding.

The objective of this war is most probably the dismemberment and destruction of that blot on the American landscape – Iran. The establishment of a Kurdish state is a long-held US policy objective. Having failed to get its way in Iran by other means, such as through the anti-nuclear lobby, it is pursuing this objective as the best way to get rid of the Iran we now have.

The Kurdish homeland does not only consist of parts of what are now Iraq and Syria, where ISIL is currently operating. A Kurdish state would also rationally include parts of Turkey and even the some regions of Georgia and Armenia, simply because it is predominantly Moslem, not predominately Kurdish, in character and there would be nowhere else to put it if you redrew the regional map. The threat of the establishment of such a state is keeping both countries in check.

There are already many examples of US threats to these countries and their forced or unforced compliance. Turkey is being attacked in the US as being “authoritarian”, and condemned for aspiring to become a regional power with the diplomatic tools to renegotiate its defence agreements with the US. Georgia was finally allowed to sign an EU Association Agreement just before huge NATO supply planes started showing up at Tbilisi Airport and investigations into previous illegal arms trafficking to terrorists, conducted by US arms suppliers through intermediaries, suddenly got bogged down.

Turkey is terrified of the PKK becoming a real political force, with a neighbouring state to back it. It is well known too that the US has supported PKK for its own reasons and this was part of the deal for the 2013 ceasefire between Turkey and Kurdish Workers Party. Otherwise any deal would be null and void if the latter claimed to be part of a new Kurdish state which had not negotiated that agreement in the first place. Georgia has bankrolled itself through US military support, and US-brokered international loans, for years. It would lose the little it has, including its sovereignty, if the US military weren’t allowed in to do what they like. No government would be so irresponsible as to wreck their country in these ways, however principled their actions might be.

At least two sides to everything

453454354Much US foreign policy action is justified by the need to protect the world from terrorism and bad, “undemocratic” regimes. The idea is that if we don’t all get together to stop these people in certain parts of the world they will target us next. It seems now that this policy has taken on a new dimension. We are being told that if we don’t follow the US line not only the terrorists but the US itself will come after us next.

Edward Snowden, the whistleblower so credible he has had to seek sanctuary in an Embassy, has stated that the Israeli intelligence organisation Mossad provided military training to ISIS leader al-Baghdadi for a year. According to prison records and sources in Georgia who know him personally, al-Baghdadi is a CIA agent. Analyst William Engdahl has described in detail how ISIS militants have been trained by the CIA in Jordan and its funding was provided by Gulf countries.

Jeffrey Silverman, Bureau Chief for Veterans Today in Georgia, has explained how the CIA placed Batirashvili, who had been invalided out of the US-trained Georgian Army supposedly unfit for service, inside ISIS under the code-name “Abu Omar al-Shishani” and how he has been increasingly promoted with the support of the CIA and the US State Department.

US Senator Rand Paul has also confirmed that the US has armed ISIL. As a prospective presidential candidate, he would not otherwise make such a claim in public without knowing it to be true, and being prepared to back it up, as it contradicts the official position and that entire gang of highly paid lobbyist to defend it. The list of those who are now leaking the truth for economic and political purposes now includes former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. She said at the press launch of her new book “Hard Choices” that ISIL has gained strength in the atmosphere created by the USA. Is this supposed to be a coincidence too?

Not content with fighting wars by proxy through forced allies the US is now fighting its own proxies too. Just as we saw throughout the Cold War, there is a good reason for this. Whatever the Taliban meant for Reagan and Al-Qaeda for Bush, ISIS and Al-Baghdadi mean for Obama. If you have to do everything to fight the enemy, everything is acceptable. Your own citizens might think differently in normal times, but not when you are all pulling together to defeat the common enemy.

A lot of houses in Western countries are designed with flat roofs, even though they are more expensive to build and maintain than traditional pitched ones. Why? Because architects can put whatever shape they like under a flat roof and are restricted in what they can put under pitched ones. The perpetual enemy is the US equivalent of the flat roof. However, as in that example, the US government is not the one who has to live with the consequences of having it.


ISIL is now, and always has been, a subcontractor of the US, as various other forces have been throughout its history. The difference now is that not only the proxies are being used to threaten US allies and justify each and every US action. They are only half the supposed threat: the US itself is openly presenting itself as the other half to keep its allies under control.

The US is still, of course, supposed to be protecting the world from these people. So without this protection, what do we do? Let the terrorists win?

By using terrorists to achieve its goals, and then threatening to come in harness with them if we don’t behave, the US is saying exactly that – that terrorists have won and we have to like it. Iran may be the target of this operation, but it is America’s allies, rather than its fair-weather enemies, who have the most to fear from it.

Henry Kamens, columnist, expert on Central Asia and Caucasus, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.