“A riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma” (the Obama war plan)

The war against ISIL/ISIS/IS continues to muddle along.  So, it looks like the Obama administration decided to put more effort into helping the Kurds fight for Kobani, whilst ISIL/ISIS/IS decided to strike on towards Baghdad.  We like our fights broken down into good guys vs bad guys, but in that region of the world, a lot fall into the bad guy group, very few into the good guy group, and a disconcerting number switch sides, hold dual loyalties, or can easily be bought, making choosing sides decidedly difficult.  Turkey finally agreed to allow aid for the Kurds at Kobani to flow through Turkey.  However, now the Syrian Kurds are angry about that.  Jamie Dettmer at Global Security.org reports:

“Syrian Kurdish leaders are pushing back on Turkey’s plan to allow Kurdish Peshmerga forces from northern Iraq to transit Turkish territory and to enter the besieged Syrian border town of Kobani to help in its defense.”

“Mideast politics is notoriously complex and among the most Byzantine involves the Kurdish political parties who vie for top-dog status and compete for the loyalty of all Kurds across Turkey, Iraq, Syria and Iran.”

The Obama administration charged into this war as clueless about the realities on the ground as they consistently demonstrated with their “prescient analysis” (that’s a joke) of the Arab Spring and choosing winners and losers there.   We now are arming US designated terrorists in Kobani to fight the ISIL/ISIS/IS terrorists.  We are still searching for elusive “Syrian moderates” from which to build a paramilitary force to be the “boots on the ground” in Syria to fight ISIL/ISIS/IS, an endeavor which US Central Command commander, Lloyd Austin says will take time.  From McClatchyDC,  “U.S. general: ‘It’ll take time’ to train new Syria force, reclaim Iraq turf, defeat Islamic State”:

“U.S. officials have said the United States is only at the very beginning of creating a new Syrian paramilitary, which will be handpicked from the country’s hodgepodge of rebel forces whose first concern isn’t the Islamic State but their long struggle to overthrow the government of President Bashar Assad.

Austin certainly didn’t raise hopes about the prospects of a streamlined Syrian ground partner emerging anytime soon; at one point he referred to the goal as “hopefully, a force that we can train in Syria.”

The message couched in Austin’s remarks was clear: The existing Syrian rebel structure is untenable and the United States aims to build its own Syrian proxy – only this time, enemy No. 1 is the Islamic State instead of Assad. It remains unclear how many Syrian rebels would sign up on those terms. It’s even less clear how many of the current rebels the United States is courting, given their repeated battlefield coordination with the local al Qaida affiliate and other jihadists.”

To highlight the bizarre meanderings of Obama’s war plan, we are fighting ISIL/ISIS/IS in Iraq and Syria, while hoping to coax (bribe) some Syrian rebel groups to help us, even though they and ISIL/ISIS/IS are Sunnis and mutually see Assad as their #1 enemy.  Any ground we force ISIL to cede in Syria, Assad is the only one with forces prepared to take advantage of, so our air strikes will, in reality, aid Assad.  In Iraq, we are arming Kurdish fighters in Kobani who are members of an US designated terrorist entity – the PKK.  In Baghdad, the weak government is relying on Iranian-backed Shiite militias – from this same McClatchyDC report:

“The weak Baghdad government is now forced into relying on Iranian-backed Shiite Muslim militias and untrained volunteers to fill the security vacuum. That’s led to an indirect U.S.-Iranian partnership against the Islamic State, translating into the U.S. military providing air cover for the same Shiite militiamen who not too many years ago were killing American soldiers.”

A news report yesterday stated that ISIL had launched mortar attacks against the US embassy in Baghdad, yet President Obama’s focus is on Kobani.  We’re reliant on our small contingent of American “boots on the ground”, the Iraqi security forces who run away from ISIL and Iranian-backed militants if ISIL launches a multi-pronged attack on our embassy and/or Baghdad.  Of course, I am sure that now that Valerie Jarrett is back on the job, recovering from back surgery, President Obama and the girls at the WH will make stupendous military decisions…….  Childhood memories of the fall of Saigon popped into my mind, along with teenage memories of the Iranian hostage situation, followed by adult memories of my total disgust and anger at watching the Clinton presidential policy disgrace at Mogadishu.  Now, we have this slow-motion disaster unfolding and where is the press at figuring out the big picture strategic disaster looming ahead???

The Last Refuge blog ran a post titled, “Lavrov’s Paradox”, highlighting that if you’re confused with who we’re arming in Obama’s war, you’re not alone.  Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, described it as follows from a CNS report, “Russian FM: We and the US Are Arming Opposing Sides in Syrian Conflict”:

“Meanwhile the U.S.-led coalition was both bombing Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS/ISIL) terrorists and providing armed support “to the opposition forces fighting the Bashar Assad regime alongside the Islamic State,” he said.

“The U.S. considers this support ‘moderate’ and therefore acceptable,” Lavrov continued. “Its purpose is to help the Syrian opposition achieve the potential to overthrow the current regime in Syria. The controversial and paradoxical nature of these actions is obvious, in my view. We have been discussing this with our U.S. counterparts, trying to understand their logic, but have not received any clear explanations so far.””

Don’t worry, surely, “I voted for the $87 billion, before I voted against it” Kerry will untangle this Gordian knot of a strategy……  And President Obama with his girls at the WH will compose a winning narrative….  Too bad real American servicemembers will pay the price for the looming, inevitable failure, while the leader from behind plays golf.  Meanwhile, Lavrov and Putin will continue to ponder the American paradox and bizarre detour from geopolitical realities, like trying to define Obama’s understanding of American national interests.  And to think, the West used to find the Russians perplexing:

“I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest.”  – Winston Churchill (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/a_riddle_wrapped_up_in_an_enigma)

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Filed under Foreign Policy, General Interest, Islam, Military, Politics, Uncategorized

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