Islamic state will not mend imperialism’s flagging fortunes

US imperialism continues to rely heavily on its own monstrous creation, Islamic State, to further its agenda in Syria, Iraq and beyond. Whether serving as a pretext for new interventions or as the direct agent of state terror, Islamic State is entirely a product of degenerate imperialism. Like Israel itself, IS would cease to exist the moment that imperialism stopped arming and protecting it.

Afghan resistance rebuffs the IS Fifth Column

The fallibility of IS when confronted with a genuine anti-imperialist resistance is starting to be exposed in Afghanistan. Washington had hoped that by ditching Karzai and securing a more pliant puppet the struggle to crush the resistance might prosper better. But this strategy is patently failing, as was evidenced most dramatically in the 22 June attack on the Kabul parliament, staged by the resistance to coincide with a vote to confirm the appointment of a new defence minister, Massoom Stanekzai, in which resistance fighters actually penetrated the parliament building itself. This propaganda coup came as the Taliban’s summer offensive was already in full swing. On 13 June dozens of resistance fighters successfully stormed a regime police outpost in Helmand province, killing 25 police and injuring 13 others, seizing weapons, ammunition and other military hardware. Clearly, from the imperialist point of view, something had to be done to dent the morale of the resistance.

Right on cue, enter Islamic State, imperialism’s would-be trump card. Unnerved by the unbroken determination of the Taliban to continue on the path of resistance, and especially unhappy about the movement’s increasingly friendly relations with Iran, it seems that Washington now hopes that the well-paid thugs of IS will be able to do what the Afghan army cannot. Yet despite (uncorroborated) claims by an Afghan army source that ten resistance fighters have been beheaded by IS, it seems that IS is not finding the Taliban the pushover it had been promised.

“So far, the number of Islamic State-inspired militants in Afghanistan has remained low compared with the Taliban’s total force, and is far from posing an existential threat. ‘Daesh [the arabic acronym for IS] has been recruiting in Afghanistan since at least April 2014, without much success so far, considering how long they’ve been at it,’ said … a senior analyst for the International Crisis Group in Kabul… ‘We started tracking groups last fall, and they usually number in the dozens. Some number in the hundreds, but none in the thousands.'” (Joseph Goldstein, ‘In ISIS, the Taliban face an insurgent threat of their own’, New York Times, 4 June 2015)

The same article describes the kind of difficulties the IS is running into. Attempts by the IS in Farah Province to poach fighters from Taliban at first seemed impressive, with several hundred youth signing up for training. Things quickly began to unravel though, with over half the new recruits reverting to their Taliban allegiance on the advice of the local mosque. Worse was to follow for IS, when the resistance laid siege to the training camp. After heavy fighting in late May, the would-be recruiters surrendered. The IS commanders and some foreign mercenaries were sent packing whilst another 55 fighters were taken prisoner.

The robust character of the Taliban’s attitude towards IS may in part be explained by the relative success of the resistance in overcoming sectarianism in its relations with its neighbours. Reports the New York Times: “Recently, the Taliban announced that they had sent a delegation to Iran – which has long viewed the Taliban’s brand of Sunni extremism with a wariness bordering on hostility – as part of a broader series of diplomatic trips to several countries to ‘discuss bilateral issues, form, expand and strengthen ties.’ The move comes at a time when the Iranian government is directly helping the fight against Islamic State units in Syria and Iraq.” (ibid)

Further evidence of Islamic State’s fallibility came in mid-June with its expulsion by Kurdish fighters from a strategic Syrian town on the Turkish border, Tal Abyad, about 50 miles north of the IS stronghold of Raqqa. This loss deprives IS of a vital cross-border rat run for new fighters and supplies from Turkey.

Islamic State in Syria

Such setbacks for IS in Syria are bad news for US efforts to keep this cruel and unwinnable proxy war dragging on, still locked into the same regime-change agenda. If the US cannot win the war of subversion, it hopes that it can at least prolong the agony by ensuring an endless supply of terrorists flowing across the Turkish and Jordanian borders. This consideration helps to explain why the US and its regional allies, whilst talking about IS as an enemy, behave towards it more as a friend.

How else explain supposedly ‘anti-IS’ airstrikes which have little effect on IS but maximise damage to Syrian oil refineries and other vital infrastructure, whilst stolen oil and wheat continue to be transported over the border to be fenced in Turkey to the highest bidder? Or how explain the airdrops of supplies which ‘accidentally’ fall into the hands of IS bands in Syria and Iraq? Syria’s foreign minister Walid al-Muallem acidly inquired in a recent interview, “Given the new technologies, is it logical to accept that the US aircraft mistakenly airdrop arms, ammunition, food, and drug consignments for the Daesh terrorists and that this mistake keeps recurring?” (PressTV, 11 February, “Syria facing US-led international conspiracy”)

Whilst Washington strives to conceal its real agenda with smoke and mirrors, Tel Aviv tends to just blurt it out. So it was when Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon went on Israeli TV to explain that IS is no enemy of Israel, that IS fights far from Israel’s borders, and that the presence of terrorist gangs of foreign mercenaries directly serves Israel by impeding efforts to build anti-zionist resistance in the Golan. (ibid)

Islamic State in Iraq

In Iraq too there is plenty of evidence to suggest that Washington’s commitment to fighting Islamic State is at best ambivalent, beset by anxiety lest any successes in the war be credited to the Iraqi army and popular forces fighting alongside it, including Hizbollah. Much as the US might wish to keep its Frankenstein monster under a degree of restraint in Iraq (whilst allowing it wider latitude in Syria), the last thing it is prepared to countenance is Baghdad turning to the axis of resistance to help rid itself of this menace.

Back in January the head of the Iraqi Parliament’s National Security and Defence Committee, Hakem al Zameli, made the startling claim that the US-led coalition is the main cause of Islamic State’s survival in Iraq, later disclosing that, in Iraq too, coalition planes have dropped weapons and foodstuffs for IS, in Salahuddin, Al-Anbar and Diyala provinces. His account was confirmed in February by a provincial official, Jafar al-Jaberi, who told the FARS News Agency, ” The US planes have dropped weapons for the ISIL terrorists in the areas under ISIL control and even in those areas that have been recently liberated from the ISIL control to encourage the terrorists to return to those places.” Al-Jaberi went on to note that eyewitnesses in Al-Havijeh of Kirkuk province had witnessed the US airplanes dropping several suspicious parcels for ISIL terrorists in the province. He added that ” Two coalition planes were also seen above the town of Al-Khas in Diyala and they carried the Takfiri terrorists to the region that has recently been liberated from the ISIL control.” (posted on Global Research, 15 June, ‘Warplanes strike Iraqi army position in Anbar’)

Still more tellingly, the US-led coalition has repeatedly struck directly at the ground forces fighting IS, the most recent example being on 13 June, when fighter jets hit a position of the Iraqi army in Anbar province. This comes on the heels of numerous similar ‘friendly fire’ incidents. On 29 March US fighter jets conducted 8 airstrikes near Tikrit, bang in the middle of a life-and-death struggle to wrest control from IS. These airstrikes targeted, not IS, but the very forces opposing IS, injuring a number of fighters. In early May, according to the FARS news agency, ” the anti-ISIL coalition forces struck the position of Iraq’s popular forces near Baghdad, killing a number of volunteer forces. The US-led coalition warplanes hit an arms production workshop of the popular forces near the Iraqi capital, destroying the workshop and its ammunition completely. Two members of Iraq’s popular forces were killed in the attack.” And early in June US-led coalition jets struck at Hizbollah forces in Anbar province killing 6 and injuring another 8. (ibid, citing FARS news agency)

And in case the reader is tempted to dismiss evidence coming from “tainted” Iraqi or Iranian sources, here is what the impeccably imperialist CNN had to say about one Gulmurod Khamilov, a former police commander from Tajikstan, who recently appeared on a video “in black ISIS garb with a sniper rifle and a bandolier of ammunition”, claiming to have been trained in the black arts of deception and murder by no less than the US State Department. Embarrassed State Department officials were obliged to confirm that, indeed, “From 2003-2014 Colonel Khalimov participated in five counterterrorism training courses in the United States and in Tajikistan, through the Department of State’s Diplomatic Security/Anti-Terrorism Assistance program,” and was trained in “crisis response”, “tactical management of special events” [!] and “tactical leadership training”. As CNN helpfully points out, “The program is intended to train candidates from participating countries in the latest counterterrorism tactics, so they can fight the very kind of militants that Khalimov has now joined”. (Dugald McConnell and Brian Todd, “ISIS fighter was trained by State Department”, 30 May) Or maybe Khalimov was being trained to shape Islamic State into the terrorist force required by the US agenda, and did everything according to the manual until he decided to blow the gaff . Either way, the conclusion is inescapable: US imperialism and IS terrorism are brothers under the skin.

Whilst imperialism ties itself up in ever tighter knots trying to shore up its crisis-battered hegemony, the axis of resistance grows in solidarity and maturity. In particular, the Syrian government, army and people remain steadfast in their stand against foreign subversion, no matter in what guise it presents itself.

Victory to the Syrian government, army and people!

Death to imperialism and all its agencies!