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The Future of the Middle East

For several months, Barack Obama has been trying to change US policy in the Middle East in order to eliminate the Islamic Emirate with the help of Syria. But he cannot do this, partly because he has been saying for years that President Assad must go, and secondly because his regional allies support the Islamic Emirate against Syria. However, things are slowly evolving so he should be able to do so soon. Thus, it appears that all States that supported the Islamic Emirate have ceased to do so, opening the way for a redistribution of the cards.

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The world awaits the conclusion of a comprehensive agreement between Washington and Tehran -under the ridiculous pretext of ending a military nuclear program that has not existed since the end of the war waged by Iraq (1980-1988) -. It would focus on the protection of Israel in exchange for recognition of Iranian influence in the Middle East and Africa.

However, this should only take effect after the Israeli elections of March 17, 2015. The supposed defeat of Netanyahu would renew ties between Washington and Tel Aviv and facilitate agreement with Tehran.

In this context, the US elite are trying to agree on future policy, while the European allies of the United States are preparing to align with what will be the new US policy.

The search for consensus in the US

After two years of inconsistent policy, Washington is trying to develop a consensus on what should be its policy in the "extended Middle East".

- 1. On October 22, 2014, the Rand Corporation, main think tank of the military-industrial lobby, dramatically changed its position. After campaigning for the destruction of the Syrian Arab Republic, it said that now, the worst thing that can happen to the United States and Israel is the fall of President Assad. [1]

- 2. On January 14, 2015, Leslie Gleb, the president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations, the club of the US elite, warned against divisions of the Obama administration that threaten its authority in the world. He advocated a kind of new "Baker-Hamilton Commission" to review foreign policy top to bottom. [2]

- 3. On January 24, the New York Times published an editorial supporting the new direction of the Rand Corporation and calling for a complete policy change vis-à-vis Syria [3].

- 4. On February 6, the Obama administration published its new strategic doctrine. It would no longer guarantee Israel’s security by destroying Syria but by creating a regional military alliance with zionist Muslim monarchies. At most, the Islamic Emirate ("Daesh") could be used to prevent Syria from holding its head high and replaying a regional political role. [4]

- 5. On February 10, the National Security Network (NSN), a bipartisan think tank that tries to explain geopolitics in the United States, published a report on all the possible options regarding the Islamic Emirate. It reviewed forty expert opinions and concluded the need to "contain and destroy" the Islamic Emirate first by relying on Iraq, then Syria’s Bashar el Assad. NSN was founded by Rand Beers, a former adviser to John Kerry, today Secretary of Homeland Security. [5]

- 6. On February 11, the Obama administration introduced to Congress a request to use military force against the Islamic Emirate which relegated to oblivion the idea to overthrow President Assad and destroy Syria [6].

- 7. On 23 February, the new Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, brought together experts for a working dinner. He took their advice for 5 hours without revealing his own point of view. Mr. Carter intended to investigate for himself the work of the CSN. Among his guests were not only former US ambassador to Syria, Robert S. Ford, and oldies think tanks, but Clare Lockhart, known for her links with the world of finance; as well as the president of the Columbia School of Journalism, Steve Coll, to assess possible media reactions. [7]

What has changed on the ground

During the last months, several factors have changed in the field.

- The "moderate Syrian opposition" has completely disappeared. It has been absorbed by Daesh to the point that the United States cannot find fighters to train to build a "new Syria." The former ambassador, Robert S. Ford (now an employee of the AIPAC think tank), who organized the 2011 protests and supported to the end the "moderate opposition" has officially changed his position. He now thinks the only real opposition in Syria is composed of jihadists that it would be extremely dangerous to arm further. [8] In retrospect, it appears that the terminology "moderate opposition" meant, not civilized fighters, but the Syrians ready to betray their country in alliance with Israel. They in fact made no mystery of this. [9] From the beginning, this opposition was led de facto by members of al-Qaeda (as the Libyan Abdel Hakim Belhaj, and the Iraqi Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi) and indulged in the worst atrocities (including cannibalism) [10]. Now all these leaders are responsible for the Islamic Emirate.

- On January 28, 2015 (Hezbollah response to the assassination of several leaders in Syria), Israel stopped support for jihadi organizations in Syria. For three and a half years, Tel Aviv supplied them with weapons, nursed their wounded in military hospitals, supported their operations with its aviation - all the while pretending to fight against arms transfers to the Lebanese Hezbollah - and, ultimately, entrusting to them the security of its border in the Golan to the detriment of the UN forces.

- The new king of Saudi Arabia, Salman, dismissed Prince Bandar on January 30, 2015 and forbade any person to support the Islamic Emirate. The Kingdom has thus ceased to play a role in the handling of international terrorism; a role that had been entrusted to it by the CIA after the Iranian Islamic revolution of 1979 and which was its mainstay for 35 years.

- Identically, Turkey also appears to have stopped supporting the jihadists since February 6 and the resignation of the head of MIT, its secret services, Hakan Fidan. Moreover, on the night of February 21st to 22nd, the Turkish army illegally entered Syria, about thirty kilometers, to remove the ashes of Suleiman Shah, the grandfather of the founder of the Ottoman Empire, the reliquary it holds by virtue of the Treaty of Ankara (1921). Despite an impressive display of force, the Turkish army did not fight the Islamic Emirate which controls the area. The remains of Suleiman Shah were not repatriated but deposited a little further, still in Syrian territory. In this way, Turkey showed that it does not intend to take action against the Islamic Emirate and retains its anti-Syrian ambitions.

Possible US Options

Six options are being discussed in Washington:

- Destroy the Islamic Emirate and destroy Syria; this is the point of view of the Raytheon firm, the world’s leading producer of missiles, defended by its lobbyist Stephen Hadley, former national security adviser to George W. Bush. The idea is to wage war for war without regard to national interests. This maximalist view is not supported by any political leader; it’s just formulated in the media to tip the scales in favor of the widest possible war.

- Building on the Islamic Emirate to destroy Syria, on the model of alliances concluded during the Vietnam War. This is the view of the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, John McCain, despite the memory of the fall of Saigon in 1975. It is extremely expensive (20 to 30 billion dollars a year for very long years), risky and unpopular. Immediately there would be a direct intervention of Iran and Russia and the conflict would go global. No one, not even Mr. McCain, is able to explain why the United States should engage in such an operation which would benefit only the state of Israel.

- To weaken and destroy the Islamic Emirate, coordinating US bombings and allied ground troops, including groups of the "moderate Syrian opposition" (which no longer exists). Then use these opposition groups (?) just to maintain pressure on Syria. This is the current counter-terrorism position in the Obama administration. It is budgeted at 4 to 9 billion per year. However, assuming that it created a "moderate Syrian opposition" is not clear how the US Air Force could successfully eliminate Daesh when it found itself unable to destroy the Taliban in Afghanistan despite already 13 years of war, not to mention the examples of Somalia or the current French stalemate in Mali.

- To weaken and destroy the Islamic Emirate, coordinating US bombing with the only forces capable of defeating it on the ground: the Syrian and Iraqi armies. This is the most interesting position because it can be supported by both Iran and Russia. It would restore the US global leadership position, as in "Desert Storm" against Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and win without fail. However, this would require stopping the demonization campaigns against Syria, Iran and Russia. This option is supported by the CSN and clearly corresponds to what the Obama administration would like to do.

- Containment of the Islamic Emirate and its progressive degradation to reduce it to an acceptable size. In this option, the priority would be to protect Iraq, the major fighting would be moved to Syria.

- The siege. The idea would no longer be to fight the Islamic Emirate, but to isolate it to avoid its spread. People under its control would then be left to their fate. It is the most economical solution, but the least honourable, defended by Kenneth Pollack.

Conclusion

These elements allow one to easily predict the future : in a few months, maybe even as early as late March, Washington and Tehran would reach an overall agreement. The United States will renew contact with Syria, closely followed by the European states, including France. We will discover that the el-Assad is neither a dictator nor a torturer. Therefore, the war against Syria will come to an end, while the main jihadist forces would be eliminated by a true international coalition. When this is all over, the surviving jihadists would be sent by the CIA to the Russian Caucasus and Chinese Xinjiang.

Translation
Roger Lagassé

[1] Alternative Futures for Syria. Regional Implications and Challenges for the United States, Andrew M. Liepman, Brian Nichiporuk, Jason Killmeyer, Rand Corporation, October 22, 2014.

[2] “This Is Obama’s Last Foreign Policy Chance”, Leslie Gelb, The Daily Beast, January 14, 2015.

[3] “Shifting Realities in Syria”, The Editorial Board, The New York Times Sunday Review, 24 janvier 2015.

[4] National Security Strategy, White House, February 6, 2015.

[5] Confronting the Islamic State. An Assessment of U.S. Strategic Options, Policy Report by J. Dana Stuster & Bill French, Foreword by Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, National Security Network, February 10, 2015.

[6] “Joint resolution to authorize the limited use of the United States Armed Forces against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Proposal)”, by Barack Obama, Voltaire Network, 11 February 2015.

[7] “Ash Carter Seeks Fresh Eyes on Global Threats”, Dion Nissenbaum, Wall Street Journal, February 24, 2015.

[8] “Ex-Ambassador: CIA Wrong On Not Wanting To Arm Syrian Rebels”, Akbar Shahid Ahmed, The Huffington Post, October 22, 2014.

[9] « Leader Sees New Syria, Without Iran Ties », Jay Solomon et Nourmalas, Wall Street Journal, 2 décembre 2011.

[10] Abbou Sakkar, commandant d’une brigade de l’Armée syrienne libre mange le cœur et le foie d’un soldat syrien sur une vidéo qu’il diffuse en mai 2013. Sur les exactions de l’Armée syrienne libre dont la presse occidentale n’a jamais rendu compte, voir la conférence de la journaliste russe Anastasia Kopova.

Thierry Meyssan

Thierry Meyssan French intellectual, founder and chairman of Voltaire Network and the Axis for Peace Conference. His columns specializing in international relations feature in daily newspapers and weekly magazines in Arabic, Spanish and Russian. His last two books published in English : 9/11 the Big Lie and Pentagate.

 
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