August 5, 2015
(ANTIMEDIA) It’s been over a year since headlines captured ISIS’s surge through Syria and Iraq last June. Since then, the U.S. government has assured the public it is doing everything in its capacity to undermine and defeat ISIS. The U.S. strategy to defeating ISIS has consisted of bombing ISIS targets from the air throughout Syria and Iraq, the training and armament of groups resisting them— such as Syrian Rebels and Iraqi troops— and the training of Iraqi forces and the assistance of U.S. advisers on the ground. It’s been over a year and such a strategy appears nowhere close to defeating ISIS, to the contrary ISIS is just as powerful now— if not even more powerful— than it was a year ago.
The existence of ISIS and its seemingly unwavering strength, has led some critics to demand that the U.S. pursue a different strategy in defeating the extremist group and winning back territory lost to their operations last summer. The debate ranges between sending weapons to Kurdish forces operating in Iraq’s Northern region, to vamping up the armament of Iraqi forces to assigning U.S. soldiers with combat missions on the ground. Unfortunately, all of these measures being discussed are precisely what created ISIS to begin with. We cannot solve a problem by relying on the same methods that facilitated the problem we aspire to solve. The U.S. government is the source of almost every major conflict in the Middle East, to demand that they solve a problem that their own behavior created is no more sensible than trusting an arsonist to head a fire department.
If America wants to defeat ISIS, the best thing they could do is just leave the Middle East and let those currently resisting ISIS in the region to do their job. It is precisely U.S. intervention that has hampered anti-ISIS efforts and strengthened the overall position of ISIS on the ground. Examples of U.S. behavior directly linked to the strengthening of ISIS include the provision of modern weapons to fighters directly linked to ISIS and the constant interference in preventing Shi’ite-backed militias from advancing against ISIS positions on the ground.
Provision of Modern Weapons: For nearly three years now, the U.S. has been sending arms to what we’re told are “moderate Syrian rebels”. It has been thoroughly exposed at this point that those fighters have direct connections to the Al-Nusra front (Syrian Branch of Al-Qaeda). It is the US pursuit of such a strategy that has resulted in advanced weaponry falling into the hands of ISIS, such as 90MM anti-tank rocket launchers, as well as U.S.-supplied BGM 71E TOW anti-tank missile systems, a guided missile that is currently the most widely used anti-tank missile by militaries across the world. These weapons have drastically aided ISIS forces on the ground, allowing them to achieve their military goals of defeating opposition forces and gaining territory.
Preventing Shi’ite Militias: It doesn’t take someone with a particularly well-informed view of the conflict to understand that sending weapons to ISIS fighters is a terrible idea if the actual goal is to defeat them. In addition to arming ISIS fighters, the U.S. has also prevented Shi’ite-led militants from advancing against ISIS positions on the ground. According to Shi’ite militia leader Qais Khazali, the U.S. doesn’t want to resolve the ISIS crisis, but instead seeks to exploit their existence to “…achieve its projects in Iraq.” Khazali further emphasizes that U.S. projects entail repartitioning the region. Khazali accuses the U.S. government of persuading Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, to limit the role of Shi’ite fighters in the campaign to oust ISIS fighters from Ramadi and Fallujah.
In addition to limiting Shi’ite militia involvement in the campaign against ISIS, the U.S. has also prevented the shipment of weapons to Kurdish forces fighting the Islamic State in Northern Iraq and Syria. U.S. policy of refusing to allow arms to be delivered to the Kurds have even drawn criticism from U.S. allies. The decision to block arms shipments to Kurdish fighters most likely stems from a desire not to upset the government of Turkey, who is currently bombing Kurdish positions across Iraq and Syria. They might become a bit angry if the U.S. decided to arm its enemies.
The actions taken by the United States government are largely responsible for the continual advancement of ISIS. By exploiting U.S. policy in Syria, ISIS was able to gain much needed weapons and able soldiers to make use of them. Now, as the conflict drags on, U.S political aims thwart the ability of armed groups fighting ISIS. ISIS extremists could only hope that the U.S. continues to do everything it currently is. If we’re going to advocate plans to stop ISIS, they shouldn’t entail depending on the U.S., as it is precisely the U.S. that is responsible for the chaos in the region.
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