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'We are ISIS'

Why haven't the US and its NATO allies done more to protect the people of Kobane? The answer to that question leads to dark places

With ISIS on the verge of taking the Syrian city of Kobane, US officials have downplayed the importance of it, saying Kobane is not a major US concern.

Not a major US concern? Wait, what? After taking Kobane, ISIS would control a wide corridor between its self-declared capital in Raqqa, Syria, and Turkey – a corridor of more than 62 miles.

“If the ISIS militants take control of Kobane, they will have a huge strategic corridor along the Turkish border, linking with the terrorist group's positions in Aleppo to the west and Raqqa to the east,” is how put it.

Staffan de Mistura, UN special envoy for Syria, warned of the horrors ISIS could carry out against the people of Kobane. "The international community needs to defend them," he said. "The international community cannot sustain another city falling under ISIS."

So why hasn’t the US, nor its NATO ally Turkey, done anything to protect the people of Kobane?

The answer to that question leads to dark places – a place where we are forced to confront the barbarian in the mirror. A place that exposes the duplicity of our own government, while simultaneously smashing the illusion of our “shining city on the hill.”

Even worse, there’s every reason to believe we are, in fact, ISIS, and this would explain why there is no serious US-led effort to defeat it. While no one is suggesting that ISIS takes its commands from the US, it does do so from our Sunni Arab allies in the region - and Vice President Joe Biden admitted as much.

The first lesson you learn about political dynamics in the Middle East is that there’s only one thing Arab states hate more than Israel: Iran. Once you understand the fear and loathing Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, Yemen, Egypt, and Jordan have over everything Iranian (Persian), you have come close to understanding how the US’s phony war against ISIS is nothing more than cover for its broader objective: toppling the Islamic Republic in Iran.

Iran has broad ambitions to spread its influence over the whole Middle East. But excluding pockets of support in Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq - the Middle East remains a hostile world for the predominantly Shiite Iranians, which is why Ayatollah Khomeini’s strategy has always been that Iran must be more Arab than the Arabs. Iran’s posturing against Israel is nothing more than Khomeini’s tactic to win Arab hearts and minds.

Iran views the US presence in the Persian Gulf as being the major obstacle for its great-power ambitions, but has see-sawed between wanting to establish a close relationship with the US and wanting to characterise it as the “Great Satan.”

In 2003, Iran offered a comprehensive negotiation on all grievances between the two countries. In writing, Iran offered to end its support for Hamas and Hezbollah, sign on to Saudi Arabia’s 2002 peace plan that would’ve ended hostilities between Israel and the Arab states, and finally, sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

With the Bush Administration gearing up for the Iraq invasion, the reply to Iran was, “We don’t want to talk to you.” The Bush neo-cons believed that regime change in Iraq would then lead to regime change in Iran. But Bush misjudged the situation. With the US bogged down in Iraq, the Iranians took the offer off the table - and, in turn, armed the Shiite factions in their resistance against the US occupation.

Iran became the big winner in Iraq. Since the US’s departure from Iraq, the Maliki led government has functioned as a quasi-Iranian province. In the minds of our Sunni Arab allies, ISIS presents an opportunity to right the wrongs - to reestablish a Sunni Arab government, and, in turn, confront the nuclear threat of Iran.

When Obama met with Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah for the first time in June 2009, the newly elected US president expected the Arab-Israeli issue to be the central issue, but instead King Abdullah launched into a one-hour long diatribe against Iran. “America must cut off the snake’s head,” the Saudi ruler famously said.

In 2007, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Seymour Hersh authored an op-ed titled “The Redirection.” In a summary of that piece, Tony Cartalucci writes:

“The Redirection,” documents…US, Saudi, and Israeli intentions to create and deploy sectarian extremists region-wide to confront Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah in Lebanon. Hersh would note that these “sectarian extremists” were either tied to al-Qaeda, or al-Qaeda itself. The ISIS army moving toward Baghdad is the final manifestation of this conspiracy, a standing army operating with impunity, threatening to topple the Syrian government, purge pro-Iranian forces in Iraq, and even threatening Iran itself by building a bridge from al-Qaeda’s NATO safe havens in Turkey, across northern Iraq, and up to Iran’s borders directly…”

So, this is where we find things today – exactly as Hersh had warned. But a gullible US media and an even more gullible US public have bought into the lies of the US government. “Iraq drama catches US Off Guard,” writes the Wall Street Journal. “Islamic State’s Rapid Growth Caught US by Surprise,” writes the Los Angeles Times.

“If drones and CIA operatives operating in ISIS territory weren't enough to detect the impending invasion, perhaps the CIA should have just picked up a newspaper,” joked Cartalucci.

In an article titled, “Al-Qaeda splinter group in Syria leaves two provinces: activists" the Lebanon Daily Star reported in March 2014 that ISIS had redeployed its forces to provinces along the Syria-Iraq border. The obvious question is this: if a Lebanese newspaper knew ISIS was moving towards Iraq, why then didn’t the CIA?

Again, the answer to that question leads to dark places. The answer is the CIA would rather take a bullet to its reputation than to expose US government complicity in unleashing ISIS into northern Iraq.

To dismiss this as a conspiracy is to dismiss the fact that the strategic objectives of the United States and ISIS coincide. “Both entities seek greater political representation for Sunnis, both want to minimise Iranian influence in Iraq, and both support a soft partition plan” - with Kurds in the north, Sunnis in the centre and Shiites in the south. This explains why President Obama didn’t attack ISIS prior to the beheadings of US journalists, even though ISIS had marched to within 50 miles of Baghdad. This is why the US has restrained itself to limited and ineffective airstrikes, and this is why the US has done nothing to protect the people of the strategic city of Kobane.

Ultimately, the US and its Sunni Arab allies benefit from these developments. So it’s time we confront the barbarian in the mirror: we are ISIS. We are the prime mover of terrorism in the region.

 - CJ Werleman is an opinion writer for Salon, Alternet, and the author of Crucifying America, and God Hates You. Hate Him Back. Follow him on twitter: @cjwerleman

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye. 

Photo credit: For weeks, this family has been waiting in front of a refugee camp near Kilis, Turkey for admission (MEE/Sebastian Backhaus) 

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