Moderate Allies In The Middle East? An Oxymoron.

Filed in International by on August 26, 2014

The fruitless search for moderate allies in the middle east is absurd.  I’m an optimist, but this idea is ridiculous.  Moderate nations to create both a political and military front to stop and roll back the ISIL Caliphate?  Syria?  Iran?  They were “enemies” before being considered as future allies.

But there are other potential allies to lead the effort to roll back ISIL because they are terrified of these whacked out warriors; the recent attack by Egypt and the UAE on the Libyan militants gives some hope for some form of coalition that could take on this task.  Diplomacy with ISIL seems a total fantasy.

Add to the 500,000 or so Egyptian and UAE boots on the ground,  if not committed elsewhere, the Saudi’s 250,000, Jordan’s 100,000 and maybe 20,000 from Kuwait and Qatar and you’re talking close to a 100 to 1 advantage over ISIL on the ground.  A number of these countries have both heavy firepower and some air power.  Then you’ve got a serious advantage if they have the will to win. Iran with their 500,000 active military could seriously sweeten the pot, especially in Iraq and slam dunk at least ISIL containment.   Contained where I don’t know for this stateless bunch.

And we’re going to have to ask ourselves quite seriously who is  the worst threat to our security; Assad or ISIL ?  The answer is pretty obvious to me.

And, how about Israel?  They’ve got much more to worry about with ISIL than even currently on their plate with Hamas.  They can add another 175,000 active military plus lots of experience with the IDF.  Maybe it is time to refocus their security priorities and payback for all the military toys we’ve funded over the years.

But make no mistake here, these are no “moderates” let alone budding democracies.  This includes Israel.  Democracy, sort of, moderate no.  Jordan is creeping toward democracy.   Funding for ISIL is coming from within most of those “allies”. Just as it is for Al Qa’ida.  Hell, we trained ISIl in the form of the Yarmouk Brigade in Jordan and armed them.  Some of those arms are now showing up in Iraq !  So are our strategies taught by us to the Iraq Sunni opposition.   Sound familiar?  Afghanistan-Al Qa’ida and the Taliban aided by the U.S. to oppose the Russian occupation?

To have fantasized that we might have sided with Syrian rebels to oppose Assad while siding with Maliki was ridiculous.  That would have generated the ISIL caliphate and headquartered it in Damascus.  To have fantasized that with the obliteration of Bin Laden and the Al Qa’ida central command we were on our way to victory is somewhat dampened by the metastasising of the organization throughout middle east and africa.   At least one survey of opinions of non-Al Qa’ida affiliated jihadist rebels in Syria revealed approval of the 9-11 attacks and the hope for more to come.

The truth seems to be that the goals of both ISIL and Al Qa’ida seem quite similar.   For that matter, the religious goals of the Saudi power structure and the Pakistan military intelligence  network (ISI), though the Saudi’s are more geographically ambitious than the ISI who seem focused on the Af/Pak region.   This was revealed in the Wikileaks document dump which included statements to that effect from the U.S. State Department.

Yet, the War on Terror seems focused on Al Qa’ida, not the totality of the Jihadist movement, all focused on the same creed and goals.  In spite of huge increases in the homeland security budget, not to mention NSA and the CIA’s  budgets, we seem utterly shocked, just shocked at the emergence of ISIS.

Isn’t it time to refocus?   The hanging of an ISIL flag on the fence at the White House, as reported by ABC news should be a bit of a jolt.  I don’t think the homeland is facing an invasion by these crazies any time soon but terror strikes are well within the realm of possibility.

Looks like its time to abandon all old assumptions and rethink alliances with new creativity and realism.  No. Not take on this challenge alone or with U.S. military boots on the ground.  There’s close to a million active military boots of those already in the region from among the middle east nations with close borders and very much to lose to the Caliphate. Brilliant diplomacy with those most threatened by the Caliphate can provide ample military response to their immediate threat and containment.  Obama is both a very cool head in this terrifying drama and a brilliant thinker, in and out of the box.  He can do this if the war drum bangers don’t overwhelm us with fear and disinformation.

If we haven’t already, I’m hopeful  Sec. Kerry can pull those most threatened together in some kind of summit.  And perhaps hammer out a deal where, if invited, we provide hardware and strategic advice, providing we can cut deals with each to cut funding for Jihad from within their own ranks.  The Saudi comes to mind especially here. And  in return for funding/military hardware, we negotiate with each for abundant intelligence on ISIL and all Jihadist groups and very strong screening on their end of travelers heading west to help us identify the crazies heading our way.

A cold, steely recognition is needed that we’re not dealing with moderates by any stretch.  And recognizing that the military hardware involved may well be used against us by some elements in their midst down the road. And a clear understanding that we’re not dealing with totally reliable partners here given the mercurial environment they’ve had to operate in to survive.

 

 

 

 

Tags:

About the Author ()

Comments (41)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. SussexAnon says:

    Who needs moderates?

    Nations in the region should unify around the idea that ISIS is going to cause problems for them because in the eyes of ISIS, they are ALL moderates.

    Let them figure it the hell out, its in their backyard.

    How should we be involved? Simple, just send Kerry over there to tell the neighboring nations that if they don’t take care of it, and something blows up in the U.S. we already have a plan and it will be called “Operation Sand-to-Glass”. So get started, middle east.

  2. LeBay says:

    >just send Kerry over there to tell the neighboring nations that if they don’t take care of it, and something blows up in the U.S. we already have a plan and it will be called “Operation Sand-to-Glass”. So get started, middle east.

    I’m fine with that, so long as Israel is included w/ all the other middle eastern countries.

  3. stan merriman says:

    I guess you mean either we or Israel drop the big one ! Where exactly, given that these ISIL guys are scattered in nooks and crannies all over the region like cockroaches? And, are your concrete bunkers with 100 days of food and water ready for the Pak retort ?

  4. SussexAnon says:

    I am suggesting countries in the region clean up their own cockroaches. ISIS is a bigger threat to the region than they are to the US.

  5. Andy says:

    I’m kinda tired of the US supporting groups only to find out later they were a bunch of loons. I’m also tired of supporting the Assads and the Egyptian militaries that rule by dictatorship. I’m also tired of conservative Israelis like Netanyahu.
    We need to get all of our troops out of the middle east and let them settle their own business. We haven’t got it right in close to 70 years doing the same thing over the time of 11 Presidents I think its time to try something different

  6. Dana says:

    I do remember when President Reagan was attempting to find moderate Iranian leaders, in the arms-for-hostages fiasco, and just how well that worked.

  7. Dana says:

    PP wrote:

    And we’re going to have to ask ourselves quite seriously who is the worst threat to our security; Assad or ISIL ? The answer is pretty obvious to me.

    Would that be the same Bashir al-Assad whom we so strongly condemned for using poison gas against his enemies? :)

    We were (sort of) arming the Syrian rebels — we gave them more promises than guns — and now we’re bombing the same people, once they’ve crossed the British-decided border into Iraq. Both the left and the right can shake their heads at this one.

  8. cassandra_m says:

    Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said the Defense Department did not believe that ISIS had “the capability right now to conduct a major attack on the U.S. homeland.”

    “We do believe they have aspirations to strike Western targets,” Admiral Kirby said, adding that the “urgency of the threat” was driven by the belief that ISIS had enlisted thousands of foreign fighters and was holding its ground in Iraq and Syria.

    ISIS is now under pressure from American airstrikes in Iraq. And the group must defend its gains from advances by a host of adversaries, like Iraqi Kurdish troops, the forces of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, and other Syrian rebels.

    “Attacking the U.S. is not their first priority,” Mr. Liepman said.

    In addition, American officials said that the group’s brutal methods of governing the territory it has seized, while effective in the short term, could create internal factions that would weaken its grip on power.

    They are definitely a threat, but this is the current extent of the threat according to the Pentagon. The cable-style fear mongering really is not needed here. Besides, let’s remember that ISIS or ISIL did not exist until after we invaded Iraq AND after al-Queda in Iraq threw these guys out for being too extreme even for them. Which isn’t to say that we shouldn’t have a smart pushback on these guys, but you still are more likely to be shot by a US police officer than be harmed by ISIS.

  9. Truth Teller says:

    Correct me if I am wrong but aren’t these the same group that Gramps McCain and Miss Lindsey wanted to arm 3 years ago????

  10. stan merriman says:

    You’re right on. Even had his pix with their leaders which went around the world’s media.

  11. Dana says:

    Mr LeBay wrote:

    just send Kerry over there to tell the neighboring nations that if they don’t take care of it, and something blows up in the U.S. we already have a plan and it will be called “Operation Sand-to-Glass”. So get started, middle east.

    I’m fine with that, so long as Israel is included w/ all the other middle eastern countries.

    Why? Israel isn’t among the Islamist countries, and certainly isn’t threatening to blow up anything in the US.

  12. Dana says:

    Mr Merriman asked:

    And, are your concrete bunkers with 100 days of food and water ready for the Pak retort ?

    Pakistan has a few atomic bombs, but really no way to deliver them on distant targets.

  13. Dana says:

    Andy wrote:

    We need to get all of our troops out of the middle east and let them settle their own business. We haven’t got it right in close to 70 years doing the same thing over the time of 11 Presidents I think its time to try something different

    Thanks to hydraulic fracturing techniques, the United States is, once again, the world’s number one oil and natural gas producer. We’ve come close to the point at which we could actually tell the whole Middle East to go pound sand, because we’re close to energy independence.

  14. Liberal Elite says:

    @D “Pakistan has a few atomic bombs, but really no way to deliver them on distant targets.”

    Fishing boat? Simple and easy…

  15. Liberal Elite says:

    @D “…and now we’re bombing the same people, once they’ve crossed the British-decided border into Iraq. Both the left and the right can shake their heads at this one.”

    And that is why this whole game seems to have been setup by military contractors here in the US.

    “We need to sell more weapons to the government.”
    “They don’t want them.”
    “Then we need another war.”
    “Whose next on our enemies list?
    “Doesn’t really matter. Let’s piss of some group that’s trying to increase their clout…”
    “How about ISIL?”
    “Sounds good to me.”
    “And, voila, a new enemy we simply MUST go after.”
    “Ha. Ha. Ha….”
    “Go tell the congress critters we bought.”
    “Yea… OK.”

    How about this instead? Let’s spend a lot less time and money worrying about which faction is up and which is down at any moment in the Mideast.
    And frankly, what we’re doing to them is no better that what they are doing to each other.

    So… Let’s save the $$$$ and work on rebuilding our infrastructure at home.

  16. Dana says:

    Mr Elite wrote:

    @D “Pakistan has a few atomic bombs, but really no way to deliver them on distant targets.”

    Fishing boat? Simple and easy…

    Simple to say, not so easy to do, at least not so easy to do when targeting the United States. We’ve been worried about this since the mid 1990s, when Pakistan first tested an atomic bomb, and security got a lot tighter after 9/11. It certainly isn’t impossible, but it isn’t all that easy.

  17. cassandra_m says:

    The thing about nuclear capability is that you don’t have to hit the US to get the US involved, e.g., Iran. We currently count so many things outside of our borders as “American Interests” that all you have to do is be able to hit those.

  18. stan merriman says:

    They have their choice of somewhere around 700 U.S. military bases in around 70 counties, housing about a quarter million U.S. military personnel. There are many other non-brick and mortar sites we occupy as well but there’s much confusion within the military as to exactly how many. But, you never hear or read U.S. citizens or media sources questioning the “diplomatic” damage our pervasive presence does to our reputation as the land of the free.

  19. Dana says:

    If the point is that Pakistan might be able to nuke an American target outside of the US, it’s a valid point, but one which negates the given argument, “are your concrete bunkers with 100 days of food and water ready for the Pak retort ?”

    I don’t have a problem with an isolationist foreign policy, provided that it is a coherent isolationist foreign policy: one which disengages from the rest of the world militarily should also be one which doesn’t send billions of dollars in aid to other countries or respond to earthquakes or tsumani or other natural disasters abroad.

    More, we’d better be prepared to live within our means in an isolationist foreign policy. While we’d still be engaged in international commerce, isolationism would probably mean fewer foreign investments, including subsidizing our deficits, and could mean the end of the dollar as the world’s reserve currency.

  20. Dana says:

    Cassandra wrote:

    The thing about nuclear capability is that you don’t have to hit the US to get the US involved, e.g., Iran. We currently count so many things outside of our borders as “American Interests” that all you have to do is be able to hit those.

    When it appeared that Russia was going to seize the eastern portion of Ukraine — and the latest reports are that Ukraine has claimed Russian troops have crossed the border — there was a huge sigh of collective relief in the US and NATO capitals that Ukraine had decided against joining NATO, meaning that it wasn’t covered by the “attack on one is an attack on all” provision of the North Atlantic Treaty. Attacks on American interests now seem to generate sternly, and I mean sternly! worded condemnations.

  21. cassandra_m says:

    The thing I’m certain you don’t know is once one of these unstable players releases a nuclear bomb, is how the response escalates. Or not. The biggest reason for a country to arm itself with nuclear bombs is to insulate itself from American meddling in “regime change”. For the Pakistanis and the Indian subcontinent, those weapons are about making sure they each stay on their respective sides of the border.

    Still, we can withdraw entirely to ourselves and still have American interests at risk. Like oil in the Middle East. But since there is no one advocating for complete isolationism, it looks like you need a new argument here.

  22. cassandra_m says:

    Ukraine hadn’t finished its process of deciding to join NATO before it was invaded, but there is effort by NATO to move supplies and equipment to the eastern border just in case.

    And given the effort to “reduce Government spending”, you’d think that you would be the first to understand that “sternly worded warnings” is about all we can afford anymore.

  23. Dana says:

    Cassandra wrote:

    The thing I’m certain you don’t know is once one of these unstable players releases a nuclear bomb, is how the response escalates. Or not. The biggest reason for a country to arm itself with nuclear bombs is to insulate itself from American meddling in “regime change”.

    Then, obviously, the proper response is a pre-emptive attack to take out those nations’ nuclear capabilities; Israel proved that with the Osirak reactor attack in 1981.

    However, we actually do know a limiting factor: the number of atomic bombs enemies possess. That’s why I never combitch when North Korea test detonates another atomic bomb to rattle its sabre: the test wastes valuable fissionable material blowing up in a hole in the ground.

  24. cassandra_m says:

    And we should have preemptively taken out the Israeli capability so that they couldn’t make so much mischief in the region. Interestingly, the Iranians are signatories to the NPT. Israel, Pakistan and India are not. A policy of taking out the nuclear capability of the countries that won’t sign the treaty might make some sense. But then there is the radioactive mess to manage.

    the test wastes valuable fissionable material blowing up in a hole in the ground.

    ???? They make their own material. And for this, the more you do it, the better you get at it. But here is the thing that folks like you never get about nuclear technology — once you’ve done it, you can never take away the knowledge of how to do it again. We already know that countries are perfectly willing to let their populations starve while they create (and recreate — the North Koreans) this capability. You might be able to wipe out the current facility, but you won’t stop the recreation of it if that country is willing to sacrifice their own people to get it done.

  25. Steve Newton says:

    Look, first of all our major problem with nukes ain’t Iran, Pakistan, India, or Israel–it’s still Russia, which has moved steadily toward a doctrine of using nuclear response to any NATO military moves as a way (I’m not kidding) to “de-escalate” a potential war.

    http://tomnichols.net/blog/2014/03/19/nuclear-weapons-and-the-ukraine-crisis/

    Yeah, Pakistan and India can muck things up pretty badly between them, but in a couple decades of MAD stand-off, they haven’t. A nuclear exchange in the Middle East remains possible, and … pretty much out of our control.

    Yeah, you could bomb Iran’s reactor sites again, but there are enough missing nukes from the disintegration of the USSR, and the technical knowledge to produce a nuke (given time and access to fissionables, in which there is a strong black market), even well-heeled sub-national groups have access.

    But while ISIS (or whoever you want to discuss) could blow up an American city (at least in theory; an awful lot of stuff has to work out exactly right for that to happen), they don’t currently possess a nuke capability that makes them an existential threat to the US.

    Putin and Russia DO possess such an arsenal.

    Pretending that playing “wackamole” against potential developing nation and sub-national nuke threats is going to do anything other than encourage more people to play (just because at some point we won’t be able to whack all the moles if there are too many of them) is, to be honest, taking us off task from the reality that the only countries still capable of world immolation remain the US, Russia, and China.

  26. Dana says:

    Cassandra wrote:

    And we should have preemptively taken out the Israeli capability so that they couldn’t make so much mischief in the region.

    What mischief has Israel made, whether dependent upon their (alleged) nuclear capacity or not?

    As best we can tell from public information — which is sketchy and unconfirmed — Israel started building atomic bombs, seriously, following the 1967 war, though they may have had one or two prior to that war. If that’s the case, then Israel’s maximum territorial expansion came prior to having a nuclear arsenal of any size. Since then, Israel has returned the Sinai to Egypt, and turned Gaza over to the Palestinians; Israel has less territory than they did prior to having a workable atomic arsenal.

    Israel’s biggest mistake was not to expel all of the Arabs immediately following the 1967 war, if they wished to keep the land. Had they done so then, it would have been harsh and brutal, but it would also have been long over.

  27. Dana says:

    Cassandra wrote:

    the test wastes valuable fissionable material blowing up in a hole in the ground.

    ???? They make their own material. And for this, the more you do it, the better you get at it.

    True enough, but it still doesn’t take away the fact that each North Korean atomic test wastes existing weapons grade material; it removes one more atomic bomb from their arsenal. I assume that you believe reducing their arsenal is a good thing.

  28. cassandra_m says:

    Reducing their arsenal is fine, but they are clearly capable of building more. So just getting one out of the way is pretty meaningless.

  29. Geezer says:

    I haven’t read the thread, because pissing up rain pipes just isn’t my thing, but I’m gonna go ahead and guess that Dana’s opinion on foreign affairs isn’t worth the piss anyone is directing up this rain pipe.

  30. cassandra_m says:

    Well there you go.

    It just slays me though, that people think that a nuclear arsenal can be bombed out of existence. A nuclear arsenal is insurance *against* this happening. And once you know how to do it, you can do it again. Arsenals can’t be cleanly erased — they can only be given up.

  31. Andy says:

    Dana the worlds biggest mistake in Israel was guaranteeing an exclusive Jewish state and allowing others to be forced from their homes.
    One of the definitions of insanity doing the same thing over and over expecting a different outcome. Our foreign policy in the middle east fits that description

  32. Dana says:

    Andy, the world’s biggest mistake was sitting by complacently while the Nazis finally took the very old European bacillus of anti-Semitism to its natural conclusion, slaughtering six million Jews and leaving almost all the rest of the Jews in Europe homeless, displaced and in wretched poverty. Theodor Herzl wrote The Jewish State, the intellectual foundations of Zionism, decades earlier, but, before the Nazis, Jewish immigration back to the Levant was still just a trickle.

    Would there be an independent Israel today had there been no World War II? No one can know, but my guess is that there wouldn’t be. If the Jews who forced their way back into the Holy Land, past British blockades in 1946 and 1947, had a real fighting spirit, a real desire for their own homeland, it’s because we good Christians forced it on them, because we gave so many of them no other choice.

    The Jews of Europe tried to assimilate into the larger culture for 1800 years, and we good Christians greeted them with persecution, pogroms, robbery and death. If we hadn’t done that, it’s difficult for me to see how Zionism would ever have gotten started.

  33. SussexAnon says:

    So the Jews move into Israel and become the oppressors themselves. Making the Palestinians pay for the rest of the world screwing them.

    Good plan for peace.

  34. Dana says:

    SussexAnon, it’s actually a poor plan for peace, because the Israelis haven’t been thorough enough conquerors; they have left the losers in their conquests alive and in a position to continue to struggle.

    Except for a couple of places like Iceland, every country in the world is the result of conquest, of a stronger people displacing, and often killing, a weaker people. With the exception of the relatively few Indians still living in the US, we here are all the beneficiaries of the conquest by the English settlers over the indigenous population; politically correct or not, almost all of us are the beneficiaries, at least indirectly, of the “trail of tears” forced removal of the Indians from the South. I live today on land other white people seized from the Indians a couple hundred years ago, and I’d bet that almost every other reader of the Delaware Liberal does as well.

    I will believe that my good friends on the left are really upset with the notion of conquest when they start giving back their own homes to the descendants of the displaced Indians.

  35. SussexAnon says:

    Wow. So Israel should commit genocide by killing all Palestinians and this will somehow bring about peace? A new master plan per se? That’s an even better plan for peace!! I am sure all the nations surrounding Israel will just sit idly by and let that happen.

    Ironic considering they have been running to escape genocide for generations.

    Just because our nation (and others) did some nasty crap in our history doesn’t mean other countries should follow suit and it is a poor argument for a nation to exist in its current form.

  36. cassandra_m says:

    they have left the losers in their conquests alive and in a position to continue to struggle.

    While the Israelis keep building homes and settlements on the land they’ve taken. Ensuring that the struggle continues.

  37. Dana says:

    I’ve said many times before: if the Israelis wanted to keep the land they conquered in 1967, they should have expelled all of the Arabs from it. It would have been cold-hearted and harsh, and more than a few of those Arabs would have died, but it would also have been over long ago, Israel would be left with shorter, more defensible borders, and the Arabs wouldn’t be living under Israeli occupation. Trouble is, the window of opportunity to do that closed very soon after the 1967 war.

    Instead, Israel seemed to want to “encourage” the Arabs to emigrate, by making the conditions not very nice, but if that was their plan, it failed miserably.

  38. Dana says:

    Cassandra wrote:

    While the Israelis keep building homes and settlements on the land they’ve taken. Ensuring that the struggle continues.

    If only Yassir Arafat had accepted the peace plan negotiated by President Clinton, that wouldn’t be happening. Alas! Mr Arafat rejected it, mouthing stupidity about the “right of return,” and President Clinton said that he rejected the best deal the Arabs could ever get.

    Why did he reject it? In my view, it’s due to two reasons: he was still so wedded to the fight, that he couldn’t live without the fight, and that he knew that Hamas would kill him if he did take it.

  39. cassandra_m says:

    You don’t know that. And just because Arafat didn’t take a deal that didn’t treat his people well isn’t much of an excuse to keep stealing land and homes.

  40. SussexAnon says:

    “I’ve said many times before: if the Israelis wanted to keep the land they conquered in 1967, they should have expelled all of the Arabs from it.”

    Right, because expelling Arabs from their lands for the 20 years prior to ’67 worked so well and brought about peace.

    Israel has been “encouraging” Arabs to leave Israel since the state of Israel was declared. Through gentrification, land planning and stripping rights away of Palestinians who have the audacity to show resentment for a group of people showing up on their land and within months declaring it a Nation that does not include the current residents.

    Again, “if only the Israelis did to the Palestinians what various groups have done around the world to Jews through expulsion and/or genocide” is possibly the worst pro-Israel argument I have ever heard.

  41. SussexAnon says:

    Palestinians poking fun at ISIS. Or ISISies.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/29/humor-isis_n_5737500.html