15 September 2014
On the eve of western Foreign Ministers and their regional allies 30 nations Paris gathering (Monday september 15) to forge strategy to contain Islamic State IS , Prime Minister David Cameron was holding an emergency COBRA ( Cabinet Office Briefing Room A ) meeting, Sunday, at no 10 Downing Street to following the brutal beheading of British aid worker David Haines by IS. Both paris and and London were following a new strategy set by Us president Barak Obama a few days earlier.. but will it work.. doubtful.
Echoing American presidents, from George W Bush, to Barak Obama, Mr cameron pledged to hunt the IS “ monsters” who murdered the British air worker Mr haines in most cowardly and barbaric way and bring them to justice. Easier said then done. Our government has no coherent workable strategy while keeps shouting “no military involvement”, despite calls from wise, experienced military leaders like former chief of staff Lord Dannatt and Conservative MP Colonel Bob Stewart ( led British forces UN peacekeepers in Bosnia in 1990s), in the commons last week “ someone has to go there and do the job, and take out IS terrorists on the ground,” but when he repeated the call on BBC Today (Mon 15 Sep) he added “ but not our British troops”.
Downing street remained silent until President Obama, who couple of weeks earlier stunned his allies and foes alike buy saying he didn’t have a strategy to deal with the terror group ISIL, finally on Thursday, outlined his strategy to “ roll back IS, squeeze and defeat them,” pledging more airstrike and sending 500 military advisers to train the Iraqis; then N10 came out with fighting rhetoric.
While secretary of State John Kerry was hopping all over the Middle East desperate to form a coalition from reluctant regional allies to defeat IS, our Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond added confusion by saying “ UK will not take part in air raid against IS in Syria” in which warranted correction later in the day by Downing Street spokesman.
Even if luck boosts Mr Cameron’s fortune and our intelligence agencies managed to locate the whereabout of the beheading monster British terrorist “ Jihady John” and send the SAS to arrest him and free any hostages they find, the bigger question of defatting the IS on the ground remains unanswered. Following the path set by Tony Blair, Mr Cameron, obviously will always await for American leadership. It is doubtful whether President Obama strategy is workable , eventhough Paris Conference Foreign Ministers on Monday agreed to send more military aid to Iraq. The Iraqi army had top American military hardware, yet runaway and left them in the hands of IS terrorists.
Cutting the funding and financial supply to IS as Mr Obama pledged, is an empty threat since IS is self financed by looting over $1.3 bn from the central bank in Mosul in June and continue to sell $1.15 m oil daily, and don’t need to buy arms; they they have Heavy armour and fighter-jets captured from Iraqi and syrian bases in their hands. Air raids alone ( the main American military intervention), had a positive effect in helping Kurdish peshmerga pushing back IS from some parts of Northern Iraq, but has no effect in populated areas (Iraq’s new prime minister ordered halt to his air force raids on Mosul after bombing a hospital and civilian locations in error). Almost all military experts agree that IS bases in Syria must be targeted by sustained air raids and cruise missiles at the same time as targeting them in Iraq, they also agree that this task can not be executed without liaison with the regime in Damascus (see Sep 2 blog ) . But President Obama undermined his own strategy by announcing more support, arms and training to “other moderate opposition” to overthrow the Assad regime. Not only this will reduce chance of successful raids on IS bases ( The Russians won’t allow NATO air forces to defat their advanced air-defenses installed in Syria and possibly manned by them), but there is also a good chance that arms given to “moderate” Syrian opposition end in the hands of IS as happened last year.
The most component of Obama strategy is forming coalition to take on IS on the ground, which, despite Mr Kerry’s optimistic noises, is not materlaising . Beside a cold reception in Cairo, he was lectured by every commentator on the banks of the Nile about “ America’s foolish contradictory signals and inconstancy in foreign policy.” The US is withholding gunship helicopters and other Equipment the Egyptians need in their war on terror, especially in Sinai against groups affiliated with IS. Egyptians ( also the Jordanians whose long borders with Syria and Iraq put them on the frontline against IS) ) are livid about Washington Brussels and London backing for the Muslim Brotherhood, banned as a terrorist group by Egypt Constitutional Court early this year (also banned in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirate), while some EU officials, and US senators urge cairo to “ include Muslim Brothers in an inclusive government” a request labelled “ mad” newspapers leaders since no politician in his right mind would dare to mention such proposal as the public ( on the receiving end of the group’s violence on the streets ) convinced the Muslim Brothers are the origins of ISIL, al-qaeda, Hamas, Boko haram and other groups feared, loathed and hated in most Arab streets .
Kerry, sofar, has failed to secure Turkey’s cooperation as it refuses to permit its Nato airbase to be used to launch air-raids on IS, citing t 45 Turkish hostages held by IS. Arab officials and western diplomats dismiss this as a false excuse since Turkey never tried hard to stop Islamist jihadists from Europe and Central Asia coming through its borders to join IS months before the hostages issue. Officials in Cairo and UAE told Kerry they were wary of Recep Tayyip Erdogan longterm plans to back Muslim Brotherhood taking over the region, as “ model political Islam”. The MB last month launched an Istanbul based organisation ( headed by an Egyptian born British national working for Chatham House and advises the government in London on Islamist affairs) with the aim of overthrowing the Egyptian government.
Furthermore, Turkey let an estimated 250 British nationals who were active within IS controlled areas to return, via its borders, to Europe, without any stamps or marks on their passports to indicate where they were, who rejoined their courses at universities in UK.