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WASHINGTON – The Obama administration is waging a “schizophrenic” Middle East policy that is aiding jihadists at the expense of people who believe in “liberty and freedom,” according to former U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Fla.
West, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel who served in Iraq and went on to become a member of Congress, told WND in an exclusive interview that President Barack Obama has taken an “unnerving stance of siding with Islamists.”
In calling Obama’s Middle East policy “perplexing,” West cited the example of the resources the U.S. committed to oust then-Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi, resulting in a vacuum in that nation that was quickly filled by jihadists.
West also cited the example of the Obama administration’s backing of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt where the U.S. withheld support for the military that ousted the Muslim Brotherhood-backed President Mohammad Morsi in 2012.
Morsi was democratically elected but then sought to consolidate all powers of the judiciary and legislature under his office, resulting in millions of people demonstrating against his rule and, eventually, the military taking power.
West’s frustration with the Obama administration’s Middle East policy is echoed by regional analysts who say the president is making it more difficult for Arabs to join the U.S. in its public stance against terrorism and especially jihadist fighters such as the Islamic State.
Years to come
As a consequence, these analysts believe that the administration policy approach will have a major adverse impact on U.S. influence in the region for years to come.
With the extreme Sunni Wahhabi jihadist Islamic State, or IS, spreading from eastern Syria into much of Iraq and threatening other Arab countries, to create its Islamic caliphate, the Sunni rebels supported by the United States against the Shiite-Alawite government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have just received a major shipment of U.S. anti-tank missiles.
This development has helped fuel the allegation that the Obama administration is, in fact, supporting the spread of the Islamic State across the Middle East, since U.S. arms destined for so-called moderate rebels of the Syrian opposition invariably wind up in the hands of Sunni jihadist fighters, many of whom are jumping on the Islamic State caliphate bandwagon.
Sources say that members of the Hazm Movement, which is supposed to be an alliance of self-declared moderate Syrian rebels, received for the first time more than 20 TOW anti-tank missiles, with more being promised.
The Hazm Movement has been known to be associated with the Sunni Syrian Muslim Brotherhood.
The missiles in the hands of the militants reportedly are armor-piercing optically guided BGM-71 TOW missiles.
Many of these arms, including the TOW anti-tank missiles, apparently come from inventories of such countries as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey.
In the meantime, U.S. Sunni allies who fought on the side of the U.S. in Iraq basically have been abandoned and now are being killed by Islamic State interests, according to informed sources to WND.
Slaughtered by jihadists
Sources say that the Sunnis belonging to the Sahwa who were Sunni militants who fought alongside the Americans during 2007 and 2009 during the U.S. troop surge under Gen. David Petraeus are being slaughtered by jihadist fighters of the Islamic State, led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
The tens of thousands of Sahwa fighters who supported U.S. forces were critical to the success of Petraeus’ troop surge strategy that made the U.S. war effort a success in the face of looming defeat.
According to a report of the open intelligence Langley Intelligence Group, or Lignet, U.S. commanders had reassured these Sunni fighters that “Washington would not abandon them.”
The U.S. military had created a system of procedures with the Iraqi government headed by Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to ensure they would continue to receive their salaries after authority shifted to the Iraqi government.
Washington had turned over close to 100,000 names and personal data files to Baghdad, Lignet said, but Maliki refused to keep his part of the bargain and moved to dismantle the Sunni Sahwa while “U.S. diplomats in Iraq made little effort to dissuade him from that action.”
The Obama administration, however, was more intent on removing troops from Iraq than weighing the implications of the power vacuum that would be created from the departure of U.S. troops.
Now that impact is being realized in other areas, such as Afghanistan, where the U.S. has troops but plans to remove them at the end of 2016 while looking for ways to maintain its influence.
“Reverberations from the slaughter of Washington’s former Sunni allies in Iraq will likely be felt for years to come,” the report said. “Many in Afghanistan will look at what is taking place in Iraq in assessing how to deal with the Taliban and other radical groups after U.S. troops withdraw in 2016.
U.S. too great a risk
“Across the Muslim world,” the report added, “millions of people will have to factor in the fate of the Sahwa in deciding whether it is too great a risk to ally with the United States in fighting the jihadists.”
As the pullout of U.S. forces from Iraq has lessened U.S. influence over Maliki and is leading to a civil war in that country, the same can be said for Afghanistan, which just went through a presidential election to replace outgoing President Hamid Karzai.
Now, there is serious political infighting over the results of that presidential election, with polling results showing that Ashraf Ghani is the winner, even though his rival, Abdullah Abdullah, claimed victory.
The concern with the impending U.S. troop pullout, however, is whether the U.S. can leave with a viable government in place, or will it go the route of Iraq with fighting among various factions that could result in another civil war there as well.
Abdullah claims the election was rigged, since the outgoing Karzai favored Ghani. Abdullah now is talking about forming a “parallel” government to rival Ghani.
Fearing a replay of Iraq in which sectarian conflict has emerged between Sunni and Shiites and produced a civil war and the virtual breakup of the country, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry asked Abdullah not to do that.
“Any action to take power by extra-legal means will cost Afghanistan the financial and security support of the U.S. and the international community,” Kerry said.
Ironically, either candidate would be acceptable to the U.S.
Ghani is a former World Bank official, while Abdullah was a resistance fighter during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan and went on to become Afghan foreign minister.
Both have pledged to sign a U.S Status of Forces Agreement to ensure U.S. troop immunity from Afghan prosecution should an episode arise. The Obama administration couldn’t get Iraq’s Maliki to agree to a similar agreement, which helped reinforce Obama’s pledge to remove all U.S. troops by the end of 2011.
With corruption continuing to run in any successor government, the Taliban just have to wait out the U.S., knowing it won’t live up to its agreements and may even leave altogether. The Taliban seeks to overthrow any government set up by the U.S.
Certainly, the U.S. experience of the Sunni Sahwa fighters in Iraq has caught the attention of the Afghans and the Taliban.
And if the fight between the two political rivals in Afghanistan isn’t resolved quickly, that country, like Iraq, could dissolve into civil war.
As in Iraq, the U.S. then will be sidelined in Afghanistan, unable to control events despite the trillions of dollars spent there and loss of thousands of U.S. troops.