By Clare Lopez:
In a prime time address to the nation on the eve of 11 September 2014, President Obama pledged an expanded U.S. effort to destroy the Islamic State (IS), which he still calls “ISIL” (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant). American air power, stepped-up training for anti-Assad Syrian jihadis (which he calls “moderate rebels”), an additional $25 million in financial aid to Baghdad, and partnership with “a broad coalition” (that currently consists of 9 countries) comprise the key elements of the new military campaign.
Given that the only territory IS currently threatens are the regimes of two Iranian puppets – one in Baghdad, one in Damascus – Obama’s announcement in effect amounts to a renewed U.S. commitment to support Tehran’s grip on regional hegemony. The nuclear talks about how quickly the U.S. will accede to the Iranian bomb resume in another week.
Remarkably, the president opened his remarks with the rather preposterous claim that “ISIL is not Islamic.” Now, Obama himself has admitted in his autobiography “Dreams From My Father” that he “made faces during Quranic studies.” Still, it might be expected that he retained something of those madrassa lessons—or at least that White House advisors (not the Muslim Brotherhood ones, though) would have steered him away from such an egregious misstatement.
As it is, one of the reasons that the Saudi regime is so shaken by the approach of IS forces toward its borders is precisely because Riyadh royals know full well their Islamic piety doesn’t begin to measure up to the purity of IS practice. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the IS leader, not only boasts a Ph.D. in Islamic Studies from a Baghdad university, but wears the black turban to signify descent from Muhammad. Whether entitled to claim the Islamic prophet’s bloodline or not, al-Baghdadi models his every action on the example Muslims believe set out for them centuries ago by the founder of their faith. For Muslim purists like al-Baghdadi, the Qur’anic verse 33:21 that tells them “Ye have indeed in the Apostle of Allah a beautiful pattern of conduct for any one whose hope is in Allah and the Final Day…” is taken quite literally (amputations, beheading, crucifixions, flogging and all).
Obama rambled on, claiming next that “ISIL is certainly not a state.” Unfortunately for the Iranian proxies in Baghdad and Damascus that are his intended beneficiaries, it is their former states that no longer exist—because the Islamic State, the Caliphate, has dismantled them. Obama did seem to recognize the effective erasure of the 1916 Sykes-Picot borders at least in some measure, though, as he declared his intent to expand U.S. air strikes more evenly throughout the Caliphate (including into what used to be called Syria as well as the former Iraq).
Apparently in pursuit of a public relations coup that’s eluded him of late, Obama nevertheless offered up additional glimpses of his unenviable conundrum about which jihadis to support on the ground in the intra-Islamic sectarian struggle that’s torn the region apart since the Islamic Uprising began in 2011.
For example, he seems to have conveniently forgotten that the ranks of today’s IS are full of Syrian jihadis armed, funded, and trained by U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) in cooperation with the now-terrified Hashemites, NATO ally Turkey, Muslim Brotherhood sponsor Qatar, and the flailing Saudi monarchy. A monster has slipped the leash but the American president says he’s more than ready to provide even more support to more Syrian rebels, who, this time, definitely will be exclusively the ‘moderate’ ones.
But what about the threat to the homeland if IS is allowed to exist and consolidate? Well, the question somehow is never asked about how either individual jihadis or small jihadi cells that an IS enclave might direct to attack the homeland are in any way different than the jihadis the Iranian or the Saudi state have launched our way over the decades—to include the hijackers of September 11, 2001 or the uncounted numbers of Hizballah cells operating across the Americas today. But there’s never been a hint of a suggestion that those jihadist sponsoring states constitute a compelling national security threat to the U.S. that requires an international coalition to deal with them.
Read more at Washington Times
Clare M. Lopez is the Vice President for Research and Analysis at the Center for Security Policy.