So what’s the scenario?


*procrastinating on pulling out troops and mercenaries from Afghanistan and Iraq,

*plopping them down unbidden in Syria (oil, you know),

*encouraging Israel to bomb Syrians and their anti-IS allies, Iran and Russia, and

*encouraging Turkey to invade Syria to fight Kurds (and Syrian and Russian troops),

the US has created a nightmare far worse than the Taliban, Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda.

Oh, for those peaceful 1990s! Saddam is already a footnote and the other two have been eclipsed in the muslim world by the Islamic State, which miraculously expanded over the Levant, and is still hanging on there by a thread. Kept that way by US-Israel.


How does IS do it?! It gained prominence only in 2014, and has survived the collective might of all the state forces of both East and West (the one thing the US, Russia and Iran agree on). It is hard to understand. Until, that is, you look at the reality of western support for overthrowing Assad, and the refusal of the US to let Iraq work together with Iran, its natural ally culturally and religiously.

I’m sorry, but much as we love to hate IS, you must admire their bravery and smarts. The US professional soldiers and mercenaries are there for the dollars. IS volunteers have a clear mission, one that is guaranteed to electrify the frustrated youth of the muslim ummah, oppressed for more than two centuries, first by the French, British, and finally the US. All the drones in the kingdom can’t put Humpty Dumpty together again. And IS ain’t goin’ nowhere.

US strategy (or rather, lack of it) has given IS control of the Middle East narrative. I.e.,

*overthrow secular Assad, refusing to work with Russia and Iran,

*keep Afghanistan and Iraq weak and divided, and

*try to prevent Iran from taking the lead in defeating IS.


For it is only Iran that is clearly opposed to this heretical sunni sect. It was able to throw off US occupation in 1979 and understandably wants all muslim lands free. Israel can’t abide the idea of Jews living under muslims, but the occupation of much of the muslim world by US-Israel is somehow just fine.

Huh? Yah, they’re doin’ a really, really great job.

IS recruits come entirely from disaffected sunni youth, primarily Saudi. US dawdling leaving Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, merely adds fuel for anti-imperialist resistance across Asia.

*Muslim youths from India, Pakistan, the Maldives, and Bangladesh have reportedly travelled to fight under the IS banner in Iraq and Syria.

*IS has established a substantial support base in Afghanistan, where al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders are struggling to remain relevant in the face of IS’s growing stature in the Levant region and beyond. IS black flags have been hoisted in the Ghazni and Nimroz provinces of Afghanistan.

Assassinating IS leader al-Baghdadi with made-in-US-Israel drones merely created yet another martyr, up there with Awlaki, Bin Ladens and now Soleimani. Hundreds of Taliban mujahideen have switched allegiances, seeing no end to US occupation, and giving up on trying to make Afghanistan livable again.


If only the US had withdrawn from Afghanistan in 2002.

If only the US had not invaded Iraq, Libya, Syria.

Now it is left with weak, discredited Saudi prince Bin Salman (but such a pretty face) as a ‘reliable’ ally. Blowing up Iranian General Soleimani merely confirmed to the Muslim world the truth that Iran is holding the Islamic torch for both Shia and Sunni.


Whether the West likes it or not, only Iran has the moral authority and the religious affiliation that gives it the natural leadership role in the fight against terrorism. It’s not a ‘shia arc’ but a united front against IS and imperialism. Trump recognized as much by assassinating Iran’s leading general, in Iraq on a peace mission. Presumably the fact that the US is occupying Iraq gives it the right to do whatever the hell it likes.


We can only look back fondly at the Taliban of the 1990s as relatively benign, compared to the evils now facing Afghanistan and Asia. By continuing to undermine the possibility of stability in a post-US occupation Afghanistan and Iraq, bravely forging ahead with the latest American counterinsurgency strategy, IS thrives. The Bin Ladens and al-qaeda may be dead, but their agenda is robust.

As Trump and Netanyahu conspire to expand illegal settlements in Palestine, make Jerusalem Jews-only, and now, with Erdogan, conspire to keep Syria weak, we can only understand this as fiddling while the Middle East burns.

We seem to be in the homestretch for the Endtimes. God help us.

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Canadian Eric Walberg is known worldwide as a journalist specializing in the Middle East, Central Asia and Russia. A graduate of University of Toronto and Cambridge in economics, he has been writing on East-West relations since the 1980s.

He has lived in both the Soviet Union and Russia, and then Uzbekistan, as a UN adviser, writer, translator and lecturer. Presently a writer for the foremost Cairo newspaper, Al Ahram, he is also a regular contributor to Counterpunch, Dissident Voice, Global Research, Al-Jazeerah and Turkish Weekly, and is a commentator on Voice of the Cape radio.

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