A recent New York Times’ opinion editorial went even so far as to suggest that Washington should treat Daesh in Syria “the same way” the USA “encouraged the mujahideen fighters to bleed Russia in Afghanistan”. Believe it or not, after unfounded accusations of chemical weapons’ use in Khan Sheikhoun by Bashar al-Assad the US mainstream media ended up supporting Daesh (ISIS/ISIL) in Syria. On April 12, the New York Times published an op-ed piece by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Thomas Friedman entitled “Why Is Trump Fighting ISIS in Syria?” He asked:
Why should our goal right now be to defeat the Islamic State [Daesh] in Syria?
As if Daesh hadn’t conducted a series of genocidal terror attacks in the Middle East and beyond, Friedman argued:
The real goal of the terrorist group is to defeat Bashar al-Assad’s régime in Syria… plus its Russian, Iranian, and Hizbullah allies… and to defeat the pro-Iranian Shiite regime in Iraq.
However, back in February 2017, CNN highlighted that since declaring its “caliphate” in June 2014, Daesh had already gone global, conducting and inspiring 143 attacks in 29 countries around the world. At least eight of the assaults were on American soil by attackers who pledged allegiance to the terrorist group. It appears that didn’t embarrass Friedman:
We could simply back off fighting territorial ISIS [Daesh] in Syria and make it entirely a problem for Iran, Russia, Hizbullah, and Assad. After all, they’re the ones overextended in Syria, not us.
Guided by this flawed logic he continued:
Trump should want to defeat ISIS in Iraq… but in Syria? Not for free, not now. In Syria, Trump should let ISIS [Daesh] be Assad’s, Iran’s, Hizbullah’s and Russia’s headache… the same way we encouraged the mujahideen fighters to bleed Russia in Afghanistan.
As usual, the devil is in the details. It’s no secret that the game-changer of the US Operation Cyclone aimed at supporting Afghani jihadi warriors from 1979 to 1989, was providing them with FIM-92 Stingers… portable lightweight anti-aircraft defence systems. Did we mishear? Did Friedman actually mean arming Daesh militants by saying “the same way”? Let’s not forget that the USA’s covert operation in Afghanistan resulted in the emergence of the terrorist Taliban. Seth Frantzman, a Jerusalem-based political commentator, busted Friedman’s arguments on his blog:
What evidence is there that ISIS [Daesh] spent its main resources fighting Assad? The terrorist organisation spent most of its resources fighting the Kurds in Syria and persecuting minorities, blowing up religious shrines and historical sites, and committing crimes against humanity. Has everyone forgotten that Daesh beheaded James Foley and Steven Sotloff, burned people to death, and murdered 1,700 people at Camp Speicher in Iraq? It’s hard to believe this appeared in a major mainstream newspaper; it’s even harder to believe it appeared in the New York Times. Of all the groups in the world to argue for letting it be someone else’s problem, why should ISIS, after its years of genocidal crimes, be let off the hook? Suggesting that it should be allowed to “be” in order to make Syria, Iran, Hizbullah, and Russia “bleed” isn’t merely cynical but tantamount to saying that the USA should have reduced pressure on the Nazis to keep the Soviets bleeding.
To add to the embarrassment, the recent US missile strike on Shayrat Airbase, used by the Syrian forces to launch attacks against Daesh and al-Nusra Front, de facto played into the terrorist groups’ hands. Kremlin spokesman D S Peskov commented:
The fact is that we no longer know what goals Washington pursued when deciding to carry out these strikes, but it is unequivocal that they launched them de facto in the interests of Daesh, al-Nusra Front, and other terrorists. In this connection, we can only express regret.
The question then arises whether the US Establishment’s obsession with toppling Bashar al-Assad will finally eclipse common sense and distract Washington right off the road.
17 April 2017