US Airstrikes in Raqqa – Democracy Has Arrived in Syria

Dilly's Desk, Huffington Post UK

Just after dawn prayers, my Twitter newsfeed was filled with breaking headlinesconfirming that the US along with its Arab allies had begun airstrikes against ISIS in the Syrian city of Raqqa. Both the Assad regime and the Obama administration have denied any collusion regarding this military offensive but if you scratch beneath the surface, it becomes relatively clear that there was a lot more collaboration behind closed doors than most would think.

The US had informed the Syrian envoy to the UN of the planned airstrikes in Raqqa on Monday. Syria’s deputy foreign minister, Faisal Mekdad told NBC on September 11 that Assad has “no reservations whatsoever” about US airstrikes in Raqqa, and believed they were fighting a “common enemy”. Coincidentally, Saudi and Iranian diplomats are due to meet later today in New York – I’m assuming to work out a coordinated contingency plan to dismantle ISIS on two fronts.

Today’s airstrikes should hopefully silence the Axis of Resistance supporters, and Global South brigades regarding their unsubstantiated conspiracy theories that the US had armed and created ISIS all along, with the complicit assistance of Israel. You have to wonder to yourself who would even accept such inadequate analysis as credible? According to pro-Russian/Iranian/Assad propagandists, the West had initiated the Syrian revolution, armed Al Qaeda affiliated rebels, and then funded groups like ISIS via its Arab proxies – it’d be interesting to see how they interpret today’s airstrikes.

More importantly, what implications does the airstrikes against ISIS in Syria have on the US and its Arab allies? If history is anything to go by, then rest assured that there will now be a real increased terror threat at home. Clearly the lessons of Afghanistan and Iraq have been ignored, and the drum beats of war played by the bloodthirsty warmongering hawks within the US government have prevailed over reason. From the onset, the “ISIS crisis” had always been a problem for the people of Iraq and Syria to sort out themselves. However, when ISIS threatened US interests in the oil rich Kurdish city of Erbil it became personal. Additionally, arming the Iraqi and Kurdish army to quell a legitimate Sunni tribal uprising (which ISIS was loosely a part of) against the brutal sectarian Iranian backed, American trained regime in Baghdad, added fuel to the fire.

As if the murder of US journalists, James Foley and Steven Sotloff wasn’t enough for Obama to resist military intervention, one could only assume that the anticipated deaths of two American citizens eventually gave the green light to execute a disastrous strategy, which Washington was itching for. It’s difficult to comprehend how Italy,France and Turkey were able to negotiate the release of their citizens held hostage by ISIS but the US, along with the UK- weren’t. Yes, we are all aware that both beacons of democracy have a ‘no negotiation’ policy with terrorists, but in reality it’s a testimony to how little the US and Britain actually care about the lives of their citizens. Rather, it appears that the coldblooded killing of their citizens actually worked in their favour, in terms of justifying foreign policy, and to further their imperial hegemony in the Middle East.

As for the Arab states who participated in the military operation in Raqqa today, they should be concerned about the storm approaching their own backyard. Saudi Arabia is faced with a hostile Shia Houthi takeover on it southern border with Yemen. Jordan is suffering from sleepless nights over the possibility of ISIS sleeper cells waiting to attack Amman. Qatar is still trying to reconcile its decision to boot Muslim Brotherhood leaders out with the sizable Islamist sympathisers among its own population, while Bahrain remains restless at the thought of another Shia uprising which began at the peak of the Arab Spring. What the US tends to forget, or intentionally ignores, is that radical Islamist groups like ISIS are born out of death, destruction, carnage, destabilisation and the power vacuum created by western military intervention. Whether it is the Taliban, Al Shabab, Al Qaeda and now ISIS, hostile anti-American resistance groups gain momentum, sympathy and legitimacy from the actions carried out by western forces.

I personally believe the US’ current military strategy to “degrade and destroy” ISIS was always on the agenda, it was merely a waiting game, never a last resort. For nearly four years Assad has been slaughtering his own people, and America’s puppet Nuri al-Maliki was doing the same in Iraq, but there was no action from Obama. However, when the Sunni uprising gained momentum in Iraq and it threatened to shift the balance of power from the Kurds in the north, and the Shia-led government in Baghdad, the US moved. Under the pretence of rescuing the Yazidis, when it was really about protecting Kurdish oil, Obama decided the time had come for military intervention.

In previous articles I stated that the Assad regime and Tehran would be the lesser of two evils in thwarting any Sunni uprising, maintaining the status quo, and protecting US interests – it was a policy of ‘my enemy’s enemy is my friend‘. Furthermore, by having the 10 Arab states on board for its current military escapade, the US can easily shift the blame on to its allies if it all goes belly up – after all, this is an operation where Arab states would equally get their hands dirty too.

You don’t have to be a fortune teller to know what will come of all this. Without a shadow of a doubt, more Muslims will flock to ISIS when innocent civilians are killed and people’s homes destroyed. Expect the execution of more US hostages, and as former head of the CIA’s Directorate of Operations, Jack Devine said on Fox Newsthis morning – “attacking ISIS increases terror threats to the US.”