By Jamie Busby
In April of this year, president Trump announced at a press conference that he was taking American troops out of Syria. After spending Trillions of dollars over the last 17 years, he claimed that nothing had been gained, though he suggested that the US had been "very successful against ISIS".
At this point, 95% of the land under the so-called caliphate had been liberated and tens of thousands of ISIS fighters had been killed in the process. US officials claimed that there was only a small group of around 3000 ISIS fighters left, somewhat trapped in two areas of Syria near the Iraqi border.
Trump's goal was to get the remaining 2000 US troops who were there, helping Syrian rebels fight ISIS, out by Autumn. That time frame has come and gone.
The reason? ISIS have been staging a comeback in recent months. Attacks are on the up and so are their numbers. The UN report that it's crucial media/propaganda arm is in recovery too.
Russia claimed to have killed the ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in May of 2017 but in August of this year, he resurfaced and broadcast to his followers for an hour. This was obviously a major shot in the arm for those same followers.
While the Americans were full of bravado about how they had vanquished ISIS from Iraq and Syria, bombing them back to the stone age, Baghdadi saw things differently. He spoke of how the tides of war change all the time and that victory or defeat were not tied to control of lands or military superiority.
Baghdadi reflected on a previous resurgence of ISIS back in 2007 when they had been all but wiped out by US troops in Iraq. At that point, they were down to their last 1000 fighters but were quickly able to attract 60,000 fighters from over 100 countries to join their fight.
Also in August of this year, reports by the UN and the Pentagon directly contradicted the claims that ISIS barely had any fighters left. The UN reported that ISIS still had up to 30,000 active jihadis in Syria and Iraq despite the fall of Raqqa last October.
The very same ISIS that were allowed to leave the self-declared capital of their caliphate in the infamous evacuation 12 months ago known as "Raqqa's dirty secret".
The Pentagon reported that ISIS had transformed from a temporary caliphate into a global covert network, again confirming up to 30,000 actual fighters in Syria and Iraq. It also noted how ISIS could easily get hold of weapons in areas of weak government; being "Made in America" also certainly helps when it comes to obtaining arms, they failed to add...
So, Trump has had to perform a U-turn and US troops would remain in Syria indefinitely. As well as fighting ISIS directly, US troops have another role; training local forces so that they can retain hold of areas, blocking the return of militants.
US Intelligence agencies don't appear to know what to make of these reports. The CIA disputes the figures put out as being too high, a main issue being how ISIS members are counted. Is it only fighters with boots on the ground or does it include anyone who has any involvement, even mere supporters? They know that foreign fighters joining up has dramatically reduced.
Former FBI terrorism specialist Ali Soufan wrote an article describing how since 2014, there have been reports that 100% of ISIS fighters have been killed. This has been reported several times, clearly prematurely.
He concludes that ISIS must be far larger than has been reported and is “among the most powerful terrorist groups in history, with no shortage of weapons or willing recruits.”
Using ISIS fighter numbers or territory control as a gauge is misleading and dangerous. Last December, former Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory over ISIS.
He stated “Our forces fully control the Iraqi-Syrian border, and thus we can announce the end of the war against Daesh”.
However, since then, ISIS has made a remarkable comeback in Iraq also, highlighted by a wave of attacks throughout the summer of 2018. Though approximately 5000 American troops are still in Iraq in an "advisory" capacity, the forces they are training are not equipped with the likes of overhead surveillance. It means they cannot do what the Americans could, such as night ambushes. This has left ISIS free to roam large areas North of Baghdad.
ISIS also appears to have gone back to older tactics; targeting police chiefs, Mukhtars (village elders) and tribal leaders. Around 3 or 4 Mukhtars are killed every week, translating into about 150 villages a year losing the head of their village.
"You can kill 1 man with 1 bullet but will have intimidated 2000" - This is how ISIS achieved such success in prior years. Iraqi forces failed to protect villages and many people were forced to join ISIS based on this tactic.
At a Pentagon press conference on August 28th this year, "Mad Dog" Mattis spoke of America's plans; the first thing was that they have to completely destroy ISIS and not leave till they have trained 50,000 local troops to comprise the Syrian Defence Forces.
Sorry to burst your bubble Mattis but the complete destruction of ISIS is impossible. Not just because you can't destroy an ideology but also due to the fact that they are funded by America itself. And I doubt you are unaware of that fact. Hamstrung on purpose perhaps?...
Mattis even had the nerve to add; "...but it really comes down to finding a way to solve this problem of Assad’s making.”
Behind the veil
For all the pompous rhetoric, ISIS have proved the greatest tool the US has in order to destabilise the oil-rich Middle East. Emphasis on the "oil-rich"... ISIS are America's justification for being in the area; perhaps "alibi" is more apt.
What convoluted matters further is that when Russia showed up to fight ISIS, they started to get results. The bombing began to work it's explosive magic. ISIS truly were being decimated and America couldn't do or say anything as those pesky, meddling Russians were there legally...
The cold harsh truth is that Israel wants to expand and to that end they need America to overthrow the Assad regime. The tail is wagging the dog, yet again. Look at how Mattis has set the scene; "We're not leaving till ISIS are destroyed", yet this won't happen as the US will keep ISIS ticking over as necessary.
America needs an ISIS presence in the region to justify their own presence in the region. The problem lies in that in ISIS, America has created a monster it can't fully control anymore.
And who is behind ALL of this? Yes, yet again, it's the great architects of the Deep State.
The New Yorker
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