In 2014 The Islamic State (IS) also called The Islamic State Iraq and Syria) began to take military control over vast tracts of land, in particular parts of Iraq and Syria. And by 2015, IS was earning some $1 - 3 million a day from the oil wells it controls, and from the oil it sells. It also takes taxes, and received donations. So, the IS has revenue. It has sophisticated arms. It has transport systems. It has a sort-of ideology. And it has put in place a legal system based on right-wing interpretations of the Sharia. And, the IS is wreaking havoc in both those areas, and it is from there that they also organize attacks like those on Beirut, Paris and Bamako, as they suffer some military set-backs in Iraq and Syria, especially after Russia really moved in against the IS. At the same time, the IS has built up some support all over the world amongst young people, as we have already seen amongst a few youths in Paris, Brussels and even Port Louis.
But there is something that has been something of a mystery to us in LALIT. Until very recently when Vladimir Putin began to spill the beans, neither Obama nor Hollande, nor any mainstream media, bothered to pose the question as to where IS sells its petrol, nor of where it gets is arms. Months passed by, while the most obvious question was never posed. Later let’s come back to this mystery.
First, how did IS get as strong as it is? This is the question that needs to be posed, so that people can help, if possible, to avoid it getting stronger, or other similar formations developing. In fact, IS is a dissident faction of Al Qaida. It seized the opportunity of the ruin that Iraq and Syria found themselves in, in order to become strong fast. This was unfortunately, predictable, given the misguided and cruel geo-politics perpetrated by the USA, as well as by its allies like the UK and France, in the Middle East.
In fact, the strengthening of the IS is caused directly by this geopolitics. And it is not only LALIT that says so. One ex-CIA agent called Graham Fuller uses the phrase that the IS is “made in America”. What is true is that the aggressive military strategy of the US in the Middle East in its control at any cost of the oil resources and routes, inadvertently or recklessly, causes the IS, or something similar, to take root.
Let’s look at the example of Iraq. Bush and Blair invented a whole tissue of lies and changing justifications for first isolating, then bombing the hell out of Iraq, then invading the country, in order to depose Saddam Hussein, a dictator, but nevertheless a secular leader of a secular society. (He became a dictator due, in part, to having been the USA’s ally against Iran.) Blair now, rather late, admits that the bombardment contributed to the birth of IS. The US and UK bomb a country back to the Stone Age, to quote George W Bush. They kill literally hundreds of thousands maybe millions of Iraqis, first by a murderous sanctions regime, and then by aerial bombing. Then, as an army of occupation, they separate the political forces along communalo-religious lines, into Sunni and Shiite, finance these organizations, especially. The divisions take a hold. They take hold partly because the US continues to support the Saudi Arabian dictatorship which is in charge of exporting a right-wing form of radical Islam, and this from long ago, called Wahabism or Salafism, a reactionary Sunni current that has set up IS. Add to this cocktail, the fact that the USA has armed and financed Mujahidin, starting with Afghanistan, in particular with the owners of big farms that became US allies and set up the armies – at the time to push back the Soviet union, which was supporting a secular, fairly socialist regime there – and this created a kind of itinerant permanent army of Jihadists, that has metamorphosed first into Al Qaeda, then IS– and has moved across from Asia, through the Middle East into Europe, first ex-Yugoslavia, and into North Africa. So, the US and its allies have a pincer-attack: They bombard from the air, and they finance fundamentalists to attack secular leaders. And it is this that has led to the IS, to the rise of terrorism, and to the massive refugee crisis. Although the 34 European countries are drastically affected by the refugee crisis, and the media give us all the tragic details, what we are not told is the same crisis, provoked by the West, has his other countries much worse. Turkey, for example, is host to over 2 million refugees, mainly from Syria. The Lebanon, hosts over 1.5 million, while Jordan, a tiny country, has 800,000. We only get wind of the crisis when it hits Europe. What a strange, strange, world, with such colonial double-standards.
In Libya and Syria, the tragedy unfolded in ways so similar to that in Iraq that it is uncanny. The West decides to get rid of a secular leader, Khadafy, or Al-Assad, and the US, France and UK chip in with the pincer strategy: bomb from the air, while arming and financing fundamentalists, handily called “rebels”, who will obviously take over when the destruction from the air is complete, and there is no society left and when civilization is up in smoke. All that remains is the fundamentalists, the ethnic-religious “rebels” that the US and its allies armed and financed. Then, it’s too late. Then, it is taboo to tell the truth as we are telling it.
So, by Friday 13 November 2015, this very same IS, returns as if in “blowback”, with the fire of destruction to Paris – but not against the Western military, but against the people of Paris; Just as the US-UK-France attacked the people of Iraq, Libya and Syria, only not bombing from a distance, but sacrificing themselves – misguided as this might be.
On Radio Plus a week after the Paris attacks, on 20 November, there was a Jean Luc Emile program, on which Joel Toussaint, as one of the guests, spoke. He gave one of the few lucid analyses of the reality.
And now, there are new contradictions exploding at the geo-political level. Turkey, a NATO country remember, brings down a Russian plane, the Russians are its allies remember, on the Turkey-Syria border. Not only does Turkey bring down the plane, which lands in Syria, but shoots down one of the parachuting pilots, for good measure. Then a whole lot of truths start to out. Putin, furious, announces that his plane was busy identifying and attacking petrol tankers that were taking IS petrol to Turkey. So, the buyer of the petrol is a NATO member, Turkey, and the petrol ends up therefore on the West’s market places. When a Russian plane was getting proof of this, Turkey shot it down and killed one of the two witnesses. The second pilot, who survived, says there was no warning, but just a direct hit.
Anyway, France has changed its political line on Syria and aligned itself with Russia. As has the West in general. They are no longer insisting that Bashir Al Assad, has to go first, then IS, a line which made them an objective ally of the IS. They now say they are dealing first with IS, as Russia was all along, thus being an objective ally of the secular, if dictatorial Syrian head of State.
But, this change is too late to get rid of IS by bombing. The geo-political strategy of the US-UK-France has destroyed the social forces in Syria so thoroughly that it is very difficult, if not impossible, for the Syrian people to control their own Government. Meanwhile, for 40 years, the West has financed all these different so-called “rebels”, or Jihadist groups, and the US’s biggest friend in the region (after Israel), Saudi Arabia continues to finance and arm the IS. So, the destruction continues.
There is a John Pilger article that dates the USA’s geo-political habit of destruction by air even further into the past, to the Cambodia bombing campaign of 1969. At the time, it was this bombing that nurtured the monstrous Polpot there, just as in 2003-2015 bombing of Iraq and Syria has nurtured the IS there. [http://johnpilger.com/articles/from-pol-pot-to-isis-anything-that-flies-on-everything-that-moves]
At the time, as Pilger quotes him, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger launched this kind of mindless bombing with the words: Everything that flies on everything that moves! So that was where the first of the two pincers began. And it was only 10 years later, in the USA Operation Cyclone, when they began financing the Mujahidin in Afghanistan, the other pincer of the crab strategy.
So, this explains how IS came to be. To finish it off is not easy. This is precisely because the USA, with US and France, has destroyed the very society that could have put order into life there. And we are talking ancient societies in Iraq and Syria. Now lying sacked.
All of this shows how the struggle for socialism is so essential if we are to finish with the blind greed of capitalism that provokes this kind of cruel disorder.
Who has backed and still backs the IS?
The curious thing about the West’s policies in the Middle East is that they do not stand up to the test of even very recent “history”, let alone long-ago history. If you dig just a very few years back, sometimes months back, you find that the great coalition of the enemies of IS (the USA, France, UK, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar) are all the very people who engendered the hideous reactionaries war-lords that now run big areas of Syria and Iraq, terrifying the people, and causing them to flee. So, there is a taboo for politicians and, more damaging perhaps, journalists to raise the issues at all. They have to be forgotten. This is compulsory.
If you look a bit further back, to the time when the importance of oil was just being realized, then you know that the Sykes-Picot line and indeed the Great War (1914-18) were all about control over the only known oil fields, those in the Middle East at a time when motorized vehicles had already overtaken horse-drawn ones, and were replacing some of the transportation done by steam engines. So, it was not a very pretty story for the West. So, while the IS can quote the Sykes-Picot line, US, French and British leaders are silent.
Similarly on the Crusades of the 11-12th Century are best “not remembered”, for their looting, pillage, rape and murder. Only George Bush, only once, in his ignorance referred to the Iraq war using the term “Crusades”.
But the worst part is being forced to forget recent events: not just arming the Mujahidin 30 years ago, not just the whole “Iraq war” fiasco of lies and murder; but also the arming until recently of the very rebels that are now IS – whether it was in Libya, in Syria and in Iraq. And then forgetting that bombing Libya meant causing unemployment for many of the 2.5 million foreign workers in Libya, thus provoking the growth of both terrorist organizations, like Boko Haram, and massive migration from Africa to Europe. The West bombs people and their work-places, and then keeps enough silence shrouding the truth that Western people are “surprised” that fleeing people come knocking on their doors.
So who are the backers of the IS?
Before coming to the main “backer” of the IS, i.e. the USA, which is also the main declared enemy of IS, and to help understand the USA’s role, let us look at the other “players” – to use the facetious term now popular in the Western media.
Saudi Arabia, the USA’s close ally, is until today, the main funder of Al Qaeda. From 2006, Saudi Arabia, on USA instructions, created the Islamic State of Iraq (al Qaeda) in order to ensure that there would be no rapprochement between Iraq and Iran. In 2011, Saudi Arabia supplied arms for the insurrection in Daraa, Syria. Saudi Arabia finances and arms almost all the armed Islamist groups in Syria, maintaining divisions amongst them, and preventing any one group becoming too autonomous. Saudi Arabia, being so close a US ally, does nothing which is not known to the USA, and presumably, accepted, if not encouraged, by the USA.
As NATO member, Turkey is also a close US ally. Yet, it is slowly being exposed as the main buyer of IS oil, to the tune of up to $3 million a day. Bilal Erdogan, the son of the head of State of Turkey has a company that seems to be involved in this racket, although Erdogan has said he will resign if this proves true. The sale of the oil that IS controls has been a question that it was taboo to broach, until Russia, furious with Turkey for bringing down its plane, denounced the route.
It is through Turkey that all the Islamists move in and out of Syria. Together with the Saudis, Turkey set up the Jabhat al Nusra (al Qaeda), a coalition called “Army of Conquest” to invade Syria in 2015. Much of the Islamist leadership of IS lives in Turkey, and Turkey gives medical treatment to IS soldiers.
As from 2011, Qatar has spent millions of dollars funding the Muslim Brotherhood, which is linked to Islamist groups, like Farouq in the Free Syrian Army. Since 2013, Qatar gives backing to the “Army of Conquest” coalition, and has worked closely with the Turkey-Saudi axis, supplying both communications and arms. Qatar is also a very close US ally.
Israel, the USA’s closest ally in the Middle East, and biggest receiver of military donations and written off loans, in turn, supplies arms to Islamist “rebels” in Syria. It also gives medical treatment to all kinds of Islamists in Syria, including the Nusra and IS. Their co-ordination takes place in Golan Heights. Its aim is to isolate Iran as far as possible.
UK & France
These two countries were involved in bombing Iraq, Syria and Libya, and also in arming Islamist “rebels” that work with different groups around al Qaeda, and later around the IS, supplying arms and communications. Both countries also facilitate “rebel” groups meeting up so as to co-ordinate with each other and become more like an “army”. At first, in Syria, this was Western support for a secular rebellion, but soon all the arms and training and finance ended up with IS, as group after group defected to IS. But the strategy in all three countries is the same: destroy civilization by bombing, create a vacuum, and simultaneously arm “rebels”, who are Islamist or become Islamist, and who fill the vacuum.
The USA has been the main backer, giving orders and co-ordinating all the above. It uses its military bases in Turkey, Jordan, Qatar, Iraq and, of course, Saudi Arabia. It arms the Syrian rebels that soon end up in the IS. Obama has delivered weapons, supplies, and CIA-sponsored training to the Free Syrian Army, which was initially a secular group, but whole sections have sworn alliance to the IS. Intelligence analysts estimate that the U.S. was involved in training some 20,000 “rebels”, giving them rockets anti-tank missiles, often through Qatar and Saudi Arabia.The USA pushes IS away from Kurd areas, but used to let/still lets them attack Syrian forces. The US’s ally, Turkey, however, prefers attacking the Kurds when it gets a chance. Iraqi officers are on record as saying the USA drops supplies for the IS.
It is hard to understand the exact war aims, or even geo-political aims, of the USA other than the protection, at any price to the peoples living there, of Middle East oil. Another thing is clear, the West does not want any form of secular challenge, either nationalist or anti-capitalist, to its imperialist aims; it prefers to create a truly terrible enemy, from creating Polpot by bombing Cambodia to creating IS by bombing countries of the Middle East.
(Multiple sources, including the rare mainstream articles, often small on inside pages, that actually reach the US and UK Press, Counterpunch articles, Prof Tim Anderson of Global Research in Canada.)