In a Nutshell
The Iran Syria Policy and Operations Group (ISOG), headed by Elizabeth Cheney before she took maternity leave, was set up in early 2006 to counter the looming threat of a nuclear-armed Iran. The main stated goal of the organization is to isolate and “contain” Iran in the same way that the Soviet Union was contained during the Cold War in hopes that Iranians will one day change their own government. Critics claim the organization is in fact endeavoring to change the Iranian regime.
Among the actions proposed by the ISOG:
- Increasing the military capabilities of Arab allies such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
- Covert assistance to Iranian dissidents
- Building international outrage toward Iran by publicizing its alleged role in a 1994 terrorist attack in Argentina.
ISOG was modeled after the Iraq Policy and Operations Group set up in 2004 to gather information and coordinate US action in Iraq.
State Dept. Funds Allocated in 2006 to “reach out to the Iranian people and support their calls for freedom.
- $10 million to support political dissidents, labor union leaders and human rights activities.
- $50 million to broadcast to the Iranian people by establishing a 24/7 broadcast in Farsi into Iran and improve radio and satellite transmissions.
- $15 to foster participation in the political process and expand internet access as a tool for civic organization. Also to help organize Iranian labor unions and political organizations.
- $5 million to help build bridges between the people of both nations by expanding Iranian student education and international visitors programs.
- $5 million to support internet and other efforts to reach the Iranian public by developing independent Farsi television and radio.
Funds are expected to double in 2008 according to the senior State Dept. official.
Fast Forward to 2014
Ill. from deviantart.com
The interest from western colonial and post-colonial powers and the U.S. in the Middle East have been a long bloody history of interference and bullying. It’s well known the U.S. military support to Sadam Husein in the 1980’s Iraqi-Iranian war. They even gave him chemical weapons. But when he invaded Kuwait in 1991 he quickly became the enemy, of course because of oil control, and in 2003 the Bush administration invaded Iraq on false allegations of weapons of mass destruction, the rest is a bloody case of history. U.S. agitation against Syria began long before today’s atrocities at least seven years ago in the context of wider operations targeting Iranian influence across the Middle East.
In 2006, writes Nafeez Ahmed (author and investigative journalist) onhttp://www.nafeezahmed.com, a little-known State Department committee – the Iran-Syria Policy and Operations Group – was meeting weekly to “coordinate actions such as curtailing Iran’s access to credit and banking institutions, organizing the sale of military equipment to Iran’s neighbors and supporting forces that oppose the two regimes.” U.S. officials said “the dissolution of the group was simply a bureaucratic reorganization” because of a “widespread public perception that it was designed to enact regime change.” A similar type of group prepared a new Middle East order in the 1990’s.
Despite the dissolution of the group, covert action continued. In May 2007, a presidential finding revealed that Bush had authorized “nonlethal” CIA operations against Iran. Anti-Syria operations were also in full swing around this time as part of this covert programme, according to Seymour Hersh, reporting for the New Yorker. A range of U.S. government and intelligence sources told him that the Bush administration had “cooperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations” intended to weaken the Shi’ite Hezbollah in Lebanon. “The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria,” wrote Hersh, “a byproduct” of which is “the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups” hostile to the United States and “sympathetic to al-Qaeda.” He noted that “the Saudi government, with Washington’s approval, would provide funds and logistical aid to weaken the government of President Bashir Assad, of Syria,” with a view to pressure him to be “more conciliatory and open to negotiations” with Israel. One faction receiving covert U.S. “political and financial support” through the Saudis was the exiled Syrian Muslim Brotherhood.
A year later, in 2008, Alexander Cockburn (was an Irish American political journalist and writer, died in 2012, at 71) revealed that a new finding authorized covert action undermining Iran “across a huge geographical are – from Lebanon to Afghanistan”, and would include support for a wide range of terrorist and military groups such as Mujahedin-e-Khalq and Jundullah in Balochistan, including al-Qaeda linked groups.
So what is this unfolding strategy to undermine Syria, Iraq, Iran and so on, all about, asks Nafeez Ahmed? According to retired NATO Secretary General Wesley Clark, a memo from the Office of the U.S. Secretary of Defense just a few weeks after 9/11 revealed plans to “attack and destroy the governments in 7 countries in five years.” A Pentagon officer familiar with the memo told him, “we’re going to start with Iraq, and then we’re going to move to Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran.” In a subsequent interview, Clark argues that this strategy is fundamentally about control of the region’s vast oil and gas resources.
A good example is that EU and the U.S. are easing an oil embargo to allow oil imports from rebel-controlled oil fields directly benefits al-Nusra fighters who control those former government fields. This rebel group the United States has designated a terrorist organization because of its ties to al-Qaeda.
No wonder Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan, in a failed attempt to bribe Russia to switch sides, told President Vladimir Putin that “whatever regime comes after” Assad, it will be “completely” in Saudi Arabia’s hands and will “not sign any agreement allowing any Gulf country to transport its gas across Syria to Europe and compete with Russian gas exports”, according to diplomatic sources. When Putin refused, the Prince vowed military action. It would seem that contradictory Saudi and Qatari oil interests are pulling the strings of U.S. policy in Syria, if not the wider region. It is this – the problem of establishing a pliable opposition which the U.S. and its oil allies feel confident will play ball, pipeline-style, in a post-Assad Syria – that will determine the nature of any prospective intervention. As Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, said (See more onhttp://www.nafeezahmed.com/2013/08/special-report-syria-intervention-plans.html)
This article is an elixir of the big play on Syria. No one knows where the imperialist wind will blow, but at least one thing is almost for sure, that the post-war events in the region will be on a heavy track towards self-determination and peace.
One more thing: To be anti-war doesn’t mean one’s pro-Assad as much western propaganda pretends. And many people in the U.S. don’t really trust their Noble “Peace” Prize winning President to do the right thing (think about all the civilians we have killed with our drones, says many north-Americans). Just because he isn’t G.W, Bush doesn’t make his war anymore “humane” or righteous. So many feel for the Syrian people and that’s why they think the last thing they need is an ill-conceived airstrike causing them more hardship. We don’t end wars with more wars… and from the look of the polls maybe the north-American public has figured this out.
The West is still fighting the last military adventure, the idea that we should engage in a third war is unappetizing to say the least. The 21st Century is only 14 years old and people are tired of the political elites, security and media elites are dragging us into a perpetual war. I also think that most people reject the idea that War is Peace and that the only way for the West to help Syrians is to kill Syrians or Iraqis we no longer like. Let’s do something about it – go protesting – you name it!
Ill. from sodahead.com
The latest is that the US has started to bomb even Syria. Without a UN-mandate of course! And the international community is on the team as well almost with no debate. The big irony is that the US now are helping the Assad-regime, but will not cooperate with them. They are not seeking permission from Syria to bomb IS (Islamic State). No, “Uncle Sam” is doing what he is used to: Using his imperialist tools wherever and whenever he thinks it proper!
In Iraq the US have been bombing IS-target for a while, together with allies both western and Arabic countries. As they put it, the new regime in Baghdad have give them permission to do so: Bomb, bomb, bomb, without any plans for other means to stop IS. Like give political and social opportunities to Sunnies for keeping them out from IS recruiting them. So here we are: Obama with his speech on the same rhetoric as W. Bush 13 years ago, ready for another war. The question is: When will they ever learn? Never, they won’t, it’s all about the hegemonic protection of capitalism!
The article below by Nafeez Ahmed is that interesting and well written, that I am presenting it here entirely with permission from the author.
How the West Created the Islamic State
Sunday, 14 September 2014 By Nafeez Ahmed
Part 1: Our Terrorists
“This is an organisation that has an apocalyptic, end-of-days strategic vision which will eventually have to be defeated,” Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a Pentagon press conference in August.
Military action is necessary to halt the spread of the ISIS/IS “cancer,” said President Obama. In his much anticipated address, he called for expanded airstrikes across Iraq and Syria, and new measures to arm and train Iraqi and Kurdish ground forces.
“The only way to defeat [IS] is to stand firm and to send a very straightforward message,”declared Prime Minister Cameron. “A country like ours will not be cowed by these barbaric killers.”
Missing from the chorus of outrage, however, has been any acknowledgement of the integral role of covert US and British regional military intelligence strategy in empowering and even directly sponsoring the very same virulent Islamist militants in Iraq, Syria and beyond, that went on to break away from al-Qaeda and form ‘ISIS’, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or now simply, the Islamic State (IS).
Since 2003, Anglo-American power has secretly and openly coordinated direct and indirect support for Islamist terrorist groups linked to al-Qaeda across the Middle East and North Africa. This ill-conceived patchwork geostrategy is a legacy of the persistent influence of neoconservative ideology, motivated by longstanding but often contradictory ambitions to dominate regional oil resources, defend an expansionist Israel, and in pursuit of these, re-draw the map of the Middle East.
Now despite Pentagon denials that there will be boots on the ground – and Obama’s insistence that this would not be another “Iraq war” – local Kurdish military and intelligence sources confirm that US and German special operations forces are already “on the ground here. They are helping to support us in the attack.” US airstrikes on ISIS positions and arms supplies to the Kurds have also been accompanied by British RAF reconnaissance flights over the region and UK weapons shipments to Kurdish peshmerga forces.
Divide and rule in Iraq
“It’s not that we don’t want the Salafis to throw bombs,”said one US government defense consultant in 2007.“It’s who they throw them at – Hezbollah, Moqtada al-Sadr, Iran, and at the Syrians, if they continue to work with Hezbollah and Iran.”
Early during the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq, the US covertly supplied arms to al-Qaeda affiliated insurgents even while ostensibly supporting an emerging Shi’a-dominated administration.
Pakistani defense sources interviewed by Asia Times in February 2005 confirmed that insurgents described as “former Ba’ath party” loyalists – who were being recruited and trained by “al-Qaeda in Iraq” under the leadership of the late Abu Musab Zarqawi – were being supplied Pakistan-manufactured weapons by the US. The arms shipments included rifles, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, ammunition, rockets and other light weaponry. These arms “could not be destined for the Iraqi security forces because US arms would be given to them”, a source told Syed Saleem Shahzad – the Times’ Pakistan bureau chief who, “known for his exposes of the Pakistani military” according to the New Yorker, was murdered in 2011. Rather, the US is playing a double-game to “head off” the threat of a “Shi’ite clergy-driven religious movement,” said the Pakistani defense source.
This was not the only way US strategy aided the rise of Zarqawi, a bin Laden mentee and brainchild of the extremist ideology that would later spawn ‘ISIS.’
According to a little-known November report for the US Joint Special Operations University (JSOU) and Strategic Studies Department, Dividing Our Enemies, post-invasion Iraq was “an interesting case study of fanning discontent among enemies, leading to ‘red-against-red’ [enemy-against-enemy] firefights.”
While counterinsurgency on the one hand requires US forces to “ameliorate harsh or deprived living conditions of the indigenous populations” to publicly win local hearts and minds:
“… the reverse side of this coin is one less discussed. It involves no effort to win over those caught in the crossfire of insurgent and counterinsurgent warfare, whether by bullet or broadcast. On the contrary, this underside of the counterinsurgency coin is calculated to exploit or create divisions among adversaries for the purpose of fomenting enemy-on-enemy deadly encounters.”
In other words, US forces will pursue public legitimacy through conventional social welfare while simultaneously delegitimising local enemies by escalating intra-insurgent violence, knowing full-well that doing so will in turn escalate the number of innocent civilians “caught in the crossfire.” The idea is that violence covertly calibrated by US special operations will not only weaken enemies through in-fighting but turn the population against them.