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Syria’s Survival Is Blow to Jihadists

By Alastair Crooke | Consortium News | September 8, 2107

Syria’s victory in remaining still standing – still on its feet, as it were – amid the ruins of all that has been visited upon her, marks effectively the demise of the Bush Doctrine in the Middle East (of “the New Middle East”). It signals the beginning of the end – not just of the political “regime change” project, but also of the Sunni jihadi project which has been used as the coercive tool for bringing into being a “New Middle East.”

Just as the region has reached a geopolitical inflection point, however, so too, has Sunni Islam. Wahhabi-inspired Islam has taken a major hit. It is now widely discredited amongst Sunnis, and reviled by just about everyone else.

Just to be clear how linked were the two projects:

In the wake of the first Gulf War (1990-91), General Wesley Clark, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander for Europe, recalled: “In 1991, [Paul Wolfowitz] was the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy … And I had gone to see him (…)

“And I said, ‘Mr. Secretary, you must be pretty happy with the performance of the troops in Desert Storm.’

“And he said: ‘Yeah, but not really, because the truth is we should have gotten rid of Saddam Hussein, and we didn’t … But one thing we did learn is that we can use our military in the region?—?in the Middle East?—?and the Soviets won’t stop us. And we’ve got about 5 or 10 years to clean up those old Soviet client regimes?—?Syria, Iran, Iraq?—?before the next great superpower comes on, to challenge us.’”

Wolfowitz’s thinking was then taken up more explicitly by David Wurmser in his 1996 document, Coping with Crumbling States (following on from his contribution to the infamous Clean Break policy strategy paper written by Richard Pearle for Bibi Netanyahu earlier in the same year). The aim here for both these seminal documents was to directly counter the allegedly “isolationist” thinking of Pat Buchanan (now arisen again in parts of the U.S. New Right and Alt-Right).

Libertarian writer Daniel Sanchez has noted: “Wurmser characterized regime change in Iraq and Syria (both ruled by Baathist regimes) as ‘expediting the chaotic collapse’ of secular-Arab nationalism in general, and Baathism in particular. He [asserted that] ‘the phenomenon of Baathism,’ was, from the very beginning, ‘an agent of foreign, namely Soviet policy’ … [and therefore advised] the West to put this anachronistic adversary ‘out of its misery’ – and to press America’s Cold War victory on toward its final culmination. Baathism should be supplanted by what he called the ‘Hashemite option.’ After their chaotic collapse, Iraq and Syria would be Hashemite possessions once again. Both would be dominated by the royal house of Jordan, which in turn, happens to be dominated by the US and Israel.”

Influencing Washington

Wurmser’s tract, Coping with Crumbling States, which together with Clean Break was to have a major impact on Washington’s thinking during the George W. Bush administration (in which David Wurmser also served). What aroused the deep-seated neocon ire in respect to the secular-Arab nationalist states was not just that they were, in the neo-con view, crumbling relics of the “evil” USSR, but that from 1953 onwards, Russia sided with these secular-nationalist states in all their conflicts regarding Israel. This was something the neo-cons could neither tolerate, nor forgive.

Both Clean Break and the 1997 Project for a New American Century(PNAC) were exclusively premised on the wider U.S. policy aim of securing Israel. The point here is that while Wurmser stressed that demolishing Baathism must be the foremost priority in the region, he added: “Secular-Arab nationalism should be given no quarter” – not even, he added, “for the sake of stemming the tide of Islamic fundamentalism”. (Emphasis added).

In fact, America had no interest in stemming the tide of Islamic fundamentalism. The U.S. was using it liberally: It had already sent in armed, fired-up Islamist insurgents into Afghanistan in 1979 precisely in order to “induce” a Soviet invasion (one which subsequently duly occurred).

Asked, much later, in view of the terrorism that subsequently occurred, whether he regretted stoking Islamic extremism in this way, President Jimmy Carter’s National Security Advisor Zbig Brzezinski replied:

“Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter, essentially: ‘We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war.’”

Fired-up Sunni radicals have now been used by Western states to counter Nasserism, Ba’athism, the USSR, Iranian influence, and latterly to try to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad in Syria. One former CIA official in 1999, described the thinking at the time thus:

“In the West, the words Islamic fundamentalism conjure up images of bearded men with turbans and women covered in black shrouds. And some Islamist movements do indeed contain reactionary and violent elements. But we should not let stereotypes blind us to the fact that there are also powerful modernizing forces at work within these movements. Political Islam is about change. In this sense, modern Islamist movements may be the main vehicle for bringing about change in the Muslim world and the break-up of the old ‘dinosaur’ regimes.” (Emphasis added).

Protecting the Emirs

Precisely: This was what the Arab Spring was about. The role allocated to Islamist movements was to break up the nationalist-secular Arab world (Wurmser’s “Secular-Arab nationalism should be given no quarter”), but additionally to protect the kings and Emirs of the Gulf, to whom America was obliged to tie itself – as Wurmser explicitly acknowledges – as the direct counter-party in the project of dissolving the nationalist secular Arab world. The kings and emirs of course, feared the socialism that was associated with Arab nationalism (— as did the Neocons).

Dan Sanchez perceptively writes (well before Russia’s intervention into the Middle East), that Robert Kagan and fellow neocon, Bill Kristol, in their 1996 Foreign Affairs article, Toward a Neo-Reaganite Foreign Policy, sought to inoculate both the conservative movement and U.S. foreign policy against the isolationism of Pat Buchanan:

“The Soviet menace had recently disappeared, and the Cold War along with it. The neocons were terrified that the American public would therefore jump at the chance to lay their imperial burdens down. Kristol and Kagan urged their readers to resist that temptation, and to instead capitalize on America’s new peerless pre-eminence … [that] must become dominance wherever and whenever possible. That way, any future near-peer competitors would be nipped in the bud, and the new ‘unipolar moment’ would last forever … What made this neocon dream seem within reach, was the indifference of post-Soviet Russia.”

And, the year after the Berlin Wall fell, war against Iraq marked the début of the re-making the Middle East: for America to assert uni-polar power globally (through military bases); to destroy Iraq and Iran; to “roll-back Syria” (as Clean Break had advocated) – and to secure Israel.

Russia Is Back

Well, Russia is back in the Middle East – and Russia is no longer “indifferent” to America’s actions – and now “civil war” has erupted in America between those who want to punish Putin for spoiling America’s unipolar moment in the region so thoroughly, and so finally – with Syria – and the other policy orientation, led by Steve Bannon, which advocates precisely the Buchanan-esque U.S. foreign policy which the neocons had so hoped to despoil (… plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose).

It is very plain however, that one thing has changed: Sunni jihadists’ long “run” as the tool of choice for re-making the Middle East is over. The signs are everywhere:

The leaders of the five emerging market BRICS powers have for the first time named militant groups based in Pakistan as a regional security concern and called for their patrons to be held to account:

“We, in this regard, express concern on the security situation in the region and violence caused by the Taliban, (Islamic State) …, Al-Qaeda and its affiliates including Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the Haqqani network, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, TTP and Hizb ut-Tahrir,” the leaders said in the declaration. (Pakistan and Saudi Arabia will need to take note).

Similarly, an article published in an Egyptian newspaper written by Britain’s Middle East minister, Alistair Burt, suggests that London now whole-heartedly supports the Sisi regime in Egypt in its war on the Muslim Brotherhood. Burt attacked the M.B. for links to extremism, while emphasizing that Britain has imposed an outright ban on any contact with the organization since 2013 – adding that “now is the time for everyone who defends the Brotherhood in London or Cairo to put an end to this confusion and ambiguity.” Not surprisingly, Burt’s remarks have been greeted with profound pleasure in Cairo. … Full article

September 8, 2017 - Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Woolfowitz…..Pearle,….Wurmser….Brzezinski…..Kagan…..Kristol…….and of course, always lurking in the background, the Grand Master of American politics Henry Kissinger(he just has to be in there somewhere).
    All these people, Unelected by the American people, but having enormous power and influence over the elected representatives of the people in “the World’s Greatest Democracy”(don’t laugh)The USA. The Revolving door, doing its job perfectly, moving the Chess pieces around so that it looks like “Democracy in Action”.

    This unelected group are the wielders of power, while the elected representatives “Wax Fat” on ‘ ‘kickbacks’, ‘donations’, and very likely enormous expenses accounts. It’s all there, right before every ones eyes, but no one can see it…….

    Comment by Brian Harry, Australia | September 8, 2017 | Reply


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