Again: Assad (w/ Putin and Khamenei looking on) incubated ISIL as a tool with several interesting functions:
–A “jihadi” trap that has drawn thousands of fighters to itself, including from Chechnya, to serve as a “Kill Zone” for the type. Not a bad idea, eh?
–However: the same ploy turns out for bribing the west — “Assad OR The Terrorists” in relation to the promotion of tyranny (that’s referenced in the terms “absolute power” and “political absolutism”);
–and for depopulating an ecologically troubled landscape (prior drought drove Syrians to protest their government’s disinterest in their starving;
–and for goading the west with mass migration, a part of the concept of “death (to America) by a thousand cuts”.
The combination of the “ownership” — ability to manipulate — an al-Qaeda-type machine (ISIL) — and the costs associated with fighting it plus the costs of absorbing the misery in human desperation that Syria has created . . . and the political costs of the western conversation that has led to reduced cohesion through a polarized politics have indeed damaged EU / NATO internal popular strength.
All in all, ISIL, The Terrorists, in one place, kind of, has turned out a great idea for Moscow, Damascus, and Tehran. The same also get to make themselves look good when fighting their very own Bozo clown (keeps getting up, so their forces can knock it down.
How Moscow Earns Back Some of its Costs for Syria’s Misery
Down into the Works: Origins of ISIS
The origins of the ISIS Emni were revealed in a chance discovery of documents in 2014, owned by Haji Bakr (aka Samir Abd Muhammad al-Khlifawi), a former colonel in the intelligence service of Saddam Hussein’s Air Defense Force. Haji Bakr became the architect of ISIS’s intelligence apparatus–the Emni. Previously jailed in Abu Ghraib and Camp Bucca, along with ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as well as other embittered former nationalistic Iraqi intelligence officers, Haji Bakr emerged in the leadership of a group, which, after plotting together in Camp Bucca from 2004 to 2008, reunited in 2012 to create the clandestine organization that eventually became known as the “Islamic State.” Eager to retaking power and re-establish Sunni dominance, by making Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi their emir and later “caliph” of what in actuality is a totalitarian state–these former intelligence officers cleverly gave the organization an Islamic face, carefully modeled after the former Iraqi Baath regime but now cloaked in Islamic garb.
Speckhard, Anne and Ahmet S. Yayla. “The ISIS Emni: Origins and Inner Workings of ISIS’s Intelligence Apparatus.” PDF. Perspectives on Terrorism, 2:1, February 2017.
Assad chose to battle back The West first and only confronted at critical junctions the al-Qaeda-type organizations coming into the fight. In essence, he allowed the same to gather and duke it out while he defined the war he believed most advantageous to himself in relation to his power and image as a modern dictator.
Most related piece on BackChannels:
The conversation continued, and as it is immediately at hand, here’s the addendum ending with a note on “Moscow-Tehran” —
Take the long view of dictators who have produced state support for terrorism: Saddam Hussein: gone; Muammar Qaddafi: gone; Bashar al-Assad: he’s hanging on.
When the Soviet Union dissolved 25 years ago, it did so with a plan for the survival of the “privileged of the Party” (source: Karen Dawisha’s book). It appears that “Colonel, President, Emperor” Putin has succeeded in restoring Russia’s autocratic state with its totalitarian PRESENTATION of states-of-affairs and its imperial ambitions intact. Reagan called it an “Evil Empire” and now we’re seeing it again, but it’s not what it was through the Cold War.
Now we’re approaching the end of the end of the Soviet Union. The Russian State is financially weak (low cash reserves; most related assets have been “parked” in the “rule-of-law” west); it has developed wars on two fronts with Syria and Ukraine; it may other issues, patently criminal, with its “frozen conflicts” (for practical purposes, ungoverned spaces amenable to the inspiring of James Bond movies). It has at least one trump card left to play: nuclear war — and that’s what we’re hearing in hints: https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2017-04-07/u-s-launches-missile-strike-on-syria-in-response-to-gas-attack
“Moscow-Tehran” — I don’t know which may be the “stronger” party, but they are both nutty with malignantly narcissistic leaders who may embrace their own destruction as glorifying. The psychology of martyrdom seems well known as regards Islam but the psychology of sacrifice in Russian culture is to me obscure.