A number of public statements recently released by the White House about the so-called “new plan” aimed at destroying ISIS has repeatedly stressed that the top priority of the Trump administration is the destruction of this terrorist group, with a particular emphasis being placed on Syria.
But how come Washington is so determined to cast a crashing blow to ISIS in Syria? – both analysts and media people in American wonder.
Those who have been following events on the ground closely must remember that no less than three years ago the United States along with a total of 21 countries would announce Operation Inherent Resolve aimed against ISIS, which implied both an extensive use of military aircraft along with an extensive training assistance that was to be provided to the so-called “moderate forces” both in Iraq and Syria.
However, nobody explicitly specified back then that the US operation was not aimed at the actual destruction of ISIS, since its intended goal was to weaken ISIS enough to allow its opponents (primarily in Iraq) to resist it effectively. Yet, one shouldn’t be surprised by such an approach since Washington has a track record of “leading allied forces from behind”, as we’ve seen during the US intervention in Vietnam under Kennedy, the Afghan campaign of 2001, and then in Libyan in 2011.
In addition, Washington “restrained position” in its fight against ISIS can largely be attributed to the fact that ISIS is a purely Sunni entity, so it would be used by Washington to prevent Iran from strengthening its positions in the region, numerous analysts note.
As a result of this lighthearted approach to the so-called War on Terror, in recent years, in spite of a number of high-profile terrorist attacks, ISIS hasn’t actually inflicted any damage to America’s interests across the world, even though the propaganda campaign that this terrorist group launched has nearly triggered a mass hysteria across the United States.
However, the situation looks drastically different in the Middle East, where all the major regional player that are capable to prevent the spread of radical ideology are pretty determined to suffocate ISIS with the use of military force.
At the moment, there are two major coalitions operating against ISIS in the region. On the one hand, we have the official authorities of Syria, supported by Russia, Iraq, Turkey and Iran, all of which are reluctant to question Syria’s territorial integrity.
On the other hand, there are the United States, Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the Kurds, the Syrian opposition, all of which pursue the collapse of the sovereign Syrian state. In this struggle it’s not a big secret that Washington is rooting for the gradual balkanization of Syria, aiming at the split of the country into regions that would be controlled by its satellites. For this purpose the United States seeks to create a Kurdistan states, as this meets its immediate tactical goals.
In addition, in a bid to somehow weaken the positions of the pro-Assad forces, the Pentagon has been consistently undermining the capabilities the Syrian army forces by repeated air strikes, with the recent one occurring a short while ago in At Tanf in southern Syria. The Americans would announce that the actions of government forces fighting radical terrorists were allegedly “threatening the forces of the US coalition”. The Syrian Foreign Ministry, in turn, has reasonably noted that the US coalition itself is engaged in acts of terrorism by consistently violating the existing international laws, along with the UN Security Council resolutions, all of which recognize the sovereignty of the Syrian state.
As it’s been noted by Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, Moscow along with its allies would uphold the sovereignty of the Syrian state by addressing the fundamental problems Damascus is facing, which would allow the Syrian crisis to be solved through the use of political means.
The negotiation process for the settlement of the conflict in Syria goes without the active participation of the United States. The format of the talks in Astana, unlike those that were held in Geneva, has already produced positive results, since the situation in some western and southern provinces of Syria has been improving steadily over recent months.
Although the US-led coalition would try to pretend that it has gone a long way to undermine the positions occupied by ISIS, both the Trump and Obama administrations would fail to explain who would be managing the lands liberated from ISIS until the very last couple days before guns start talking, especially in Syria that Washington has been after for a really long time. In other words, the US has a military strategy, but there is no political component, and the weaker ISIS grip over the lands it occupied becomes, the clearer one understands that Washington has no comprehensive political strategy to follow its bombings.
Trump’s term in office has been marked by a rigid opposition to Iran, so it’s no wonder that the West doesn’t want to transfer the control over the liberated territories to anyone: nor only Russia, but to Iran-backed Shia armed groups as well, and those groups form up the better part of the forces deployed by Assad and the Baghdad government .
Therefore, the Trump administration is eager to describe both the Sunni jihadists and Shia armed groups by one term – Islamic radical terrorists. Therefore, by announcing a “new course of action” in the fight against ISIS, Washington is announcing that it’s going to strike Shia armed groups in Syria with an ever increasing frequency.
Valeriy Kulikov, expert politologist, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”