By Sal Bommarito
At the United Nations this past week, the interested parties took sides in the complex situation confronting the U.S. as it forms a coalition and maps out a strategy to combat ISIS. The episode is documented in a New York Times article on Saturday.
Secretary of State John Kerry “expressed gratitude to a host of allies for bolstering the American-led campaign against terrorist groups in Iraq and Syria . . .” This depiction is odd from a number of perspectives. For one, very few nations are explicitly backing an attack on Syria; and, the coalition has not yet begun operations there. Secondly, the only nation that has participated in military actions besides the U.S. is France. And finally, Kerry thanked Saudi clerics “for condemning the Islamic State as an ‘order of Satan.’” The Saudis should be expressing their gratitude to the U.S. for doing their dirty work and delaying ISIS efforts to de-stabilize the Saudi regime.
In the meantime, Iran was told they were not invited to attend an international meeting to discuss the fight against ISIS. Yet, Iran’s cooperation may be critical to the U.S. mission. In response, Iran indicated that it supported the Assad regime even as it abhors ISIS. Frankly, the U.S. has no choice but to spurn Iran, as the latter’s involvement would “complicate” U.S. relations with Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Turkey said that Syria is a “patron of extremism,” while Saudi Arabia “blamed it for fueling the rise of ISIS.
Russia is Syria’s principal backer and warned the coalition not to extend the fighting into Syria. Outrageously, the Russians said any attack should be approved by Syria or in a Security Council resolution, or it would be illegal. As they said this, Russia continued its illegal invasion of the Ukraine.
The observation to be made is that the U.S. is asking for permission and thanking others far too often; instead it should be moving forward aggressively against the terrorists. The hypocrisy of the other players is mind-boggling, yet the U.S. does not call them out. The current Arab regimes not yet impacted by the Arab Spring should be going all in with the U.S. to prevent violent uprisings in their own countries. Saudi Arabia and the other Sunni regimes will be on the ISIS agenda if the U.S. is not successful in Iraq and Syria.
As for the Russians, it must be difficult for U.S. diplomats to listen to them suggest that U.S. actions to fight ISIS anywhere are illegal after the vicious way it has de-stabilized another sovereign nation.
The sides are drawn up. The U.S. wants to kill ISIS without deploying ground troops (our generals are saying this will be impossible), topple Assad and placate Saudi Arabia. Iran wants revolution to disrupt its Sunni enemies. It detests the leadership of the U.S. and American military operations in its backyard. The European coalition members, for the most part, want to participate in the destruction of ISIS without any risk of casualties or expenditures. Russia is anxious to support Assad and the oppressive regime in Syria.
What a mess! I hope this all works out.