16 November 2014

Since ISIS was Created by Efforts to Overthrow Bashar al-Assad, It Follows that Fighting ISIS Might Involve Eschewing the Goals to Overthrow Bashar al-Assad

One of the realities that is studiously ignored in the west is that the Syrian civil war has its roots in efforts by the Gulf monarchies to overthrow the Damascus regime.

These efforts sowed misery throughout the region, and boosted Salafist militias through the area.

Another reality being studiously ignored is that ISIS was, until recently, the private military of the House of Saud, assembled by Prince Bandar bin Sultan, then head of the Saudi intelligence agency.

It comes as no surprise that it appears that people are discovering that fighting ISIS is incompatible with the immediate overthrow of the Baathist regime in Syria:
The Obama administration, as I wrote last week, has at least a hypothetical way forward in Iraq, but not in Syria, which it is currently treating as the rear sanctuary for Islamic State (IS) forces besieging Iraq. By the time its long-term plan to train insurgents to fight both IS and the regime of President Bashar al-Assad reaches fruition, there may be very little Syria left to save. Even that's assuming that the administration takes its own plan seriously, which past history suggests it will not.

What, then, can be done -- by anyone -- to turn off the Syrian meat grinder?

Last week, David Ignatius of the Washington Post wrote about a leaked document proposing a set of local cease-fires between Syrian rebels and the regime that might ultimately lead to a process of political reconciliation. The column whipped up a tornado of speculation in the very small world of Syria experts. That, in turn, led David Harland, the head of the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (HD), the Geneva-based organization responsible for the document, to produce a finished report outlining the proposal and then to send it to me. The document remains private, so I can't link to it, but I can quote from it. The argument it makes must be taken seriously by anyone who cares about Syria.


The premise of the HD report, titled "Steps to Settle the Syrian Conflict," is that neither the regime nor the rebels are capable of defeating the other. The savage stalemate creates conditions in which both IS and Jabhat al-Nusra, the local al Qaeda offshoot, can thrive. Worse, the haplessness of mainstream insurgent groups has "radicalized and salafized" the rank and file, who are increasingly joining the jihadists. With the rout last week of American-backed brigades in the western city of Idlib, non-jihadi rebels are in danger of becoming a marginal force in Syria. At the same time, the Syrian state -- which is now functional, but not much more, across much of the country -- is coming ever closer to collapse. As the state grows weaker, criminal elements and militias grow ever stronger, while IS and al-Nusra fill the vacuum of governance. Syria could collapse into Somalia. There is an urgent need to preserve the state, so the argument goes, even if that also means keeping Assad in power. "Better to have a regime and a state than not to have a state," as Harland pithily puts it.
I see any action that can be seen as a big f%$# you to the House of Saud as an independent good, so I am not an unbiased source, but I do think that this is the reality here.


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