by Ghassan Kadi
There is a lot of myth about ISIS, its roots, and relationship with America. To unravel the mystery, we need to go back to some basics of human behaviour, more specifically, to basics of human behaviour of psychopaths and sociopaths.
In order to understand the current impasse between ISIS and the USA, and to be able to assess if there is indeed an impasse at all, and more importantly perhaps, to be able to make any plausible predictions about any future moves and interactions between the two sides, it becomes imperative to look at the tumultuous and damning history of the Islamist-American interactions over the last three to four decades or so.
When the Americans forged their relationship with King Abdul-Aziz, the founder of the Al-Saud dynasty in the 1930’s, the deal was primarily of an economically strategic nature; oil for money and different types of security for both. It is arguable as to whether or not the Americans have actually at any time since defended the Saudis militarily, despite two wars on Iraq using Saudi soil. Either way however, religion was not a part of the deal that kept those two very diverse allies together.
Religion did not become a part of the equation until the USSR entered Afghanistan. The legacy of Kissinger’s diplomacy was still fresh in the mind of the then US Foreign Secretary Zbigniew Brzezinski, who overtaken by an delusion of self-grandeur, wanted to out-perform his mentor and conjured up a master plan, a plan that recruits Jihadi Muslim fighters to fight the Soviet Communist “infidels”.
The real-to-life Don Quixote shuttling on an official US-jet instead of a donkey’s back, clearly had no idea at all about the nature and the size of the monster he was about to create. The simple reason behind his deadly mistake is a fact that seems to be still little known in the West today; it wasn’t known then, and it remains unknown and hidden away even now.
What drives recruitments for Jihadist Takfiris is not Western money. What drives recruitments is an ancient archaic misinterpretation of Islam; one that has been around for centuries.
So Brzezinski shuttled between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan and possibly Afghanistan in order to bring his plot to fruition. He spoke to Islamist fighters, telling them that “God is on your side”  and meant to raise an army of Jihadists. Then the Saudis introduced him to a golden trump, Oussama Bin Laden. Bin Laden was not only prepared to leave the comfort of his opulent family mansions, but he was also prepared to put his money where his mouth was.
America nonetheless provided him and his men with weapons, training and funds to eventually create what became known as Al-Qaeda. With this help, Bin Laden raised an army of Jihadi fundamentalists who homed in from all over the world, driven by the archaic Quranic misinterpretation, to fight the Communist infidels.
A marriage of convenience of this nature was bound to lead to a divorce of convenience.
As America was preparing for Operation Desert Storm in order to oust Saddam out of Kuwait, the Saudi government permitted the USA to put boots on Saudi soil. That rang a huge alarm bell for the highly indoctrinated Bin Laden who could not at all fathom and accept Christian “heretic” boots on holy Islamic soil.
Bin Laden raised his concerns to the Saudi Royals, and they in turn assured him that the Americans would never go to the actual holy land (ie Mecca and Medina in the Western province of Hijaz) and that they would leave as soon as the conflict with Iraq was over.
Bin Laden grew restless as time proved that the Americans were not given the marching orders, and before too long, he fell out of favour with the Saudi Royals and eventually became a persona non grata. This all happened in the early 1990’s, and it didn’t take long after this for Al-Qaeda to start targeting American troops and interests in the region, to become America’s prime enemy and listed on top of the list of terrorist organizations.
Furthermore, the personal wealth of Bin Laden turned into a curse in disguise. It allowed him to turn against his former American partners as he was able to self-finance.
Whether or not September 11 was fully or partly an inside job, and regardless of what happened behind the scenes and television screens, America and Al-Qaeda did fall apart and the two sides fought each other bitterly in Afghanistan and later on in Iraq. Al-Qaeda members were incarcerated and dumped in Guantanamo, and any denial of this is unrealistic.
One of the problems of American foreign policy makers however is that they never learn from previous mistakes. And whilst they try to give the impression that they are the masters of information-intelligence, evidence shows that they have little literal intelligence, ie human-intelligence.
This lack of intelligence, on both counts, at one stage became exemplified to me personally when I was watching some developing news on TV back in 2003. American troops were advancing into Najaf; a Shiite holy city, and their tanks and troops were greeted by cheering Iraqis. In obvious total ignorance of where they were and the significance of the location, the tanks kept advancing towards the Shrine of Imam Ali Bin Abi Taleb; the holiest of all Shiite shrines. The jubilation of the mases turned into anger, and people were suddenly throwing themselves in front of the tanks and troops trying to stop them from advancing, and the Americans clearly had no idea at all what the fuss was all about. This is equivalent to say Chinese troops entering the Vatican not knowing what it stands for.
Such is the ignorance of American foreign policy makers and their disregard of other cultures. They thrive on policies of arrogance and indifference.
It is not surprising therefore to see American foreign policy makers repeating the same mistake to the one they made with Al-Qaeda.
The second time around however, they had to use a different name. Whether fundamentalist Islamist Jihadists call themselves Al-Qaeda, Taliban, ISIS, Al-Nusra, Mujahideen, Wahhabis, Muslim Brothers or any other name, they are in principle identical and driven by the same archaic, yet fundamental and deeply-indoctrinated misinterpretations of the Quran.
As the “Anti-Syrian Cocktail” was taking form, very loosely-associated elements were bundled together united only by their hatred to the secular Syria under the presidency of Bashar Al-Assad. The Assad legacy, father and son, made many enemies; all the way from Israel (for supporting and sponsoring Hezbollah), to America (for refusing to accept the Middle East American road map), to the Saudis and other Gulfies (for its strong ties with Iran), to the Islamists (for the crackdown on Islamists in 1982), to Turkey (as Syria’s strength would stand in the way of Erdogan’s Sultanate dreams), and last but not least, all the way to the Lebanese 14th of March Coalition (for accusing Syria of assassinating Rafiq Al-Hariri). Other minor groups also joined in, including some disgruntled army officers and would-be reformists who were unable to see the extent of the conspiracy and genuinely believed that they were having a revolution. Many of those however soon realized their mistake and many officers returned to Syrian Army service.
In a twist of logic, the ultra-right wing Christian “Lebanese Forces” became comrades of Islamist fighters.
The diversity of that infamous cocktail also implied diversity in objectives. The aim was to achieve a swift victory and the Islamists were promised the reins of Syria to be handed to them. The coalition was not prepared for a long war any more than it was prepared to withstand divisions within its ranks.
In mid 2013, and upon realizing the strength of the Syrian Army and the immense popular support President Assad was receiving, Prince Bandar Bin Sultan was searching for a magic panacea. He made a secret visit to Moscow and tried to coerce President Putin into abandoning Syria. The buffoon did not realize that he was talking to an extra-ordinary leader of a different type of superpower than his American masters. He even threatened Putin that he would unleash the Chechen fighters, but went back home empty-handed.
It was then then that Bandar, with the help of Mossad, conjured up the story about the chemical attack in East Ghouta in August 2013 and tried to rally up support to invade Damascus. President Putin foiled that plot and declared Syria a redline.
As a result, America backed down about its decision to invade Syria and settled for the face-saving dealing of Syria’s surrender of it stockpile of chemical weapons. That was the defining moment at which that the Islamists realized that the Americans had let them down again just like they had let down Al-Qaeda before them (ie when they entered Saudi Arabia). The Islamists remained focused on an Islamic State, but they woke up to the realization that this was something that they would have to do themselves; ie without the help of their Saudi and American partners.
That was the breaking point in that infamous evil coalition.
But the Islamists did not have Bin Laden this time to finance them. If they wanted to break loose from the binds of Al-Saud and America, they needed to secure their own financial backbone. They found it in Iraqi oil and bank cash and gold deposits in Mosul, needless to mention an apparently big number of wealthy Muslim benefactors who do not want to reveal their identities.
The biggest failure in this devious plan was again that of none other than Bandar Bin Sultan. He was the one who convinced the Americans that he will be able to hold the Islamists by the horn. Unlike Bin Laden he argued, neither will he turn against the Americans nor will the Jihadists turn against him because they needed his financial support. Bandar did not even stop twice to think that ISIS was going to turn around and generate its own funds and be able to dump him. It is little wonder that Bandar was abandoned and stripped of all his titles, responsibilities and privileges. Not only had he let America down, but also the entire House of Saud.
Once self-supportive, ISIS did not have to listen to anyone any more, and their common interests with their former partners and benefactors widened to the extent that their escalating antagonism turned them into enemies.
The so-called ISIS/ISIL or simply IS (short for Islamic State) is based on the Wahhabi (ie Saudi) version of Islam, but as the schism between it and its Saudi roots deepened, the two parties became at odds and vowed to destroy each other. This is easier said than done for Al-Saud given that perhaps 60-70% of Saudis (according to some estimates) harbour support for ISIS.
On the other hand, America realized the extent of the ISIS monster it created as well as its potential growth, and thus decided to clip its wings. Will the Americans get serious about fighting the monster they helped create? This remains anyone’s guess. Is America still helping ISIS behind the scenes as some argue? Perhaps they are, but this does not change America’s realization of the mistake it made. What is clear now is that they have realized that they have committed a mistake, and mostly, that they were wrong in believing in Bandar’s ability to wield ISIS.
The Americans want to curb the growth of ISIS, but having said that, they do not yet seem serious about eradicating it. As a matter of fact, even if they eradicate the organization and its members, they cannot eradicate the theology that underpins it.
The notable Levantine commentator Sharmine Narwani argues that in its nuclear deal with Iran, America wants to step back from the Levant and focus on Russia and China as well as its ailing economy, leaving the Levantine cleanup for Russian diplomacy and joint Syrian and Iranian efforts . This assessment does not seem far-fetched.
Back to ISIS and the USA.
It is very wrong to assume and believe that ISIS, or any Islamist organization for that matter, is just putty in the hands of America. Islamists may well be criminal fanatic radicals, but they are highly indoctrinated and what they want is simple; they want the whole world to turn into an Islamic State under the law of Sharia.
Psychopaths and sociopaths do not make friends. They regard other humans as assets and use them as tools. This applies to interactions between themselves, for if they have to deal with each other, they also use each other for as long as they need to. The Islamists therefore will use America, just like America uses them, but when their interests diverge, they will declare war on each other, and right now, as a matter of fact since over a year ago or so, ISIS has declared mutiny on its former partners in the Levant.
ISIS is fueled by a misinterpretation of the Holy Quran, and interpretation that is based on giving concepts like “Jihad”, “Fateh” and “Shahada” an overriding military perspective.
“Jihad” is meant to be the struggle of the soul against its inner demons. It was distorted to mean struggle in military combat against non-Muslims.
“Fateh” means revelation, but it was distorted to mean military conquest and coercing other nations to adopt Islam.
“Shahada” means vision (ie of the Lord), but it was also distorted to mean martyrdom in battle and a guarantee to go to heaven .
The Holy Quran clearly notes that Islam is vehemently against coercion, and that in the latter days, only a few (Thullah) will be righteous. The Islamist fantasy of Islam ruling the world is in total contradiction of the word of the Holy Quran.
The main problems with those archaic beliefs come from two sides; firstly, they are widely accepted (and therefore the ISIS theology cannot be rebuked by Muslim theologists), and secondly, they have been around for centuries.
So on one hand, rational Muslim scholars who understand the true message of Islam are not in a position to challenge commonly-held beliefs without literally risking their heads, and on the other hand America and its CIA did not invent those belief systems.
Those belief systems have been around before the CIA was established and even long before Columbus laid a foot on American soil.
If anything, members of ISIS and similar organizations look down at the USA and the whole West. They regard it as a debauched culture that they are superior to. They will not take orders from those who do not follow their faith, and this is also a part of their doctrine.
America may be able to switch organizations like ISIS on, but it is incapable of switching them off, and any assumption that ISIS answers to America and fully complies with its commands and directions is extremely inaccurate and uninformed.
More inaccurate is the commonly-held belief in some people that “all is going according to plan” for the USA in as far as its plot against Syria is progressing. This cannot be further from the truth. This is a war that they wanted to win swiftly four years ago, and four years later, their victory is looking less and less likely.
In what follows, we shall look at the strategic impasse that American policies are experiencing in Syria, and why is it that an American-led military solution is unfeasible.