When Donald Trump, the Republican Party’s candidate in the United States of America’s presidential race, alleged that President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party candidate, Hillary Clinton were the founders of ISIS, he drew much consternation from the public. It seemed like another of his trademark rants but the reality is, though it might not be Obama and Clinton as individuals who are to blame, the United States is culpable and should take responsibility for the monster ISIS is. ISIS is the creation of a reckless and unapologetically selfish US foreign policy. It is a global problem born of imperialist agendas. It is a United States foreign policy project gone wrong.
The ISIS Problem
In 1999, Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi, a Sunni extremist founded The Organisation of Monotheism and Jihad which became the Al Qa’ida in Iraq (AQI) in 2004 after he pledged allegiance to Osama Bin Laden. According to the National Counterterrorism Center of the USA, “The group targeted Coalition and Iraqi forces and civilians to pressure foreigners to leave Iraq, reduce popular support for the US and Iraqi Government, and attract recruits.”
Zarqawi was killed in a 2006 airstrike and the group later became the Islamic State of Iraq, becoming the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham and then simply Islamic State in 2014. To put the effects of IS (as it is now known) into context, START conducted a study and revealed, “Between 2002 and 2015, more than 4,900 terrorist attacks were carried out by groups or organisations affiliated with the organisation now known as the Islamic State. These attacks caused more than 33,000 deaths and 41,000 injuries, and involved more than 11,000 individuals held hostage or kidnapped.” The attacks by ISIS are further said to have represented 13% of all terrorist attacks, 26% of all deaths, 28% of all injuries and 24% of all kidnap victims or hostages due to terrorism in the same period. With its social media savvy leadership, the group has managed to recruit more and more people resulting in more attacks in the most unlikely of places. No one is safe anymore.
The USA Connection
ISIS is one terrorist group which could have been history by now if the USA and her allies really intended to do away with it. In fact, it might have barely seen the light of day not for the confused policies of the US. A seven page leaked US intelligence report written in August 2012 put online by Judicial Watch proves the US knew of the harm its presence in the Middle East was making. Not only that, but the US was also aware of the potential of the then skirmishes between the Syrian Assad regime and rebels taking a “clear sectarian direction”. The United States was also aware that, “The Salafist, the Muslim Brotherhood and AQI (Al Qaeda In Iraq) are the major forces driving insurgency in Syria.” By now it is clear that AQI morphed into ISIS. However, the final revelation is even more telling.
The document says, “The West, Gulf Countries and Turkey support the opposition, while Russia, China and Iran support the regime.” The opposition has already been established to be the AQI, and the Salafist and Muslim Brotherhood so in 2012, America and her friends were in support of AQI. To further prove the culpability of America, the report states in page 5, “If the situation unravels there is a possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in Eastern Syria, and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered a strategic depth of the Shia expansion.”
With a judgment clouded by the lingering possibility of overthrowing Bashar al-Assad, the USA and her allies chose to side with one of the deadliest terror groups to ever operate in the world. President Vladimir Putin in answering a question regarding ISIS from a US journalist at the Valdai International Discussion Club in 2014 asked important questions (rhetorical) that called for much United States introspection. He said, “Another threat President Obama mentioned was ISIS. Well, who on earth armed them? Who armed the Syrians that were fighting with Assad? Who created the necessary political and informational climate that facilitated this situation? Who pushed for the delivery of arms to the area?”
There are no prizes for guessing the answer to President Putin’s questions. He further probed on the financing of IS arguing that most of the fighters in Syria were mercenaries funded by the US who defected for money to the IS. Where does IS get this money from? From the oil fields it has occupied in the region. The more important question is: Who is buying IS’s blood oil? Are the buyers really anonymous? Is the United States of America’s celebrated CIA unable to track who these buyers are? That is unlikely. The buyers are known and yet they are not under sanctions, the same sanctions which are a tool the United States is only too happy to use to prop up its imperialist ambitions.
US Secretary of Defense, Ashton Carter gave a testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee in December where he tried to hide the USA’s knowledge of IS fuel trucks moving in Syria but was called out by Senator John McCain who said, “We all knew those trucks were moving back and forth. We’ve seen them. We knew it. The decision was not made by the White House to attack them.”
The oil being a vital source of IS funding, why did the US sit on its hands and refrain from cutting this very important linkage that would destroy the allure of IS to mercenaries? It would seem the USA is deliberately sabotaging the global campaign to end IS to further its divide and conquer imperialist mind-set and to neutralise Russian power as if the Cold War is still on.
President Barack Obama might not have the time to fix the many wrongs of his country’s foreign policy but whoever comes next has some real work to do. As far as the landscape of world politics is concerned, the USA is operating disturbingly like a big legitimised terror group and that is unacceptable. President Vladimir Putin gave good advice in the Valdai International Discussion Club when he said to the USA, “You must rise above the endless desire to dominate. You must stop acting out of imperialistic ambitions. Do not poison the consciousness of millions of people like there can be no other way but imperialistic politics.”