The 'Sunni Turn' Against The 'Shiite Crescent': How The Strategic Stupidity Of Washington (And Its Allies) Created ISIS

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by AntiWar's Justin Raimondo via Contra Corner blog,

The Islamic State in Syria (ISIS) is being touted as the newest “threat” to the American homeland: hysterics have pointed to Chicago as the locus of their interest, and we are told by everyone from the President on down that if we don’t attack them – i.e. go back into Iraq (and even venture into Syria) to root them out – they’ll soon show up on American shores.

How is this supposed to work? Well, you see, that monster who beheaded James Foley had a British accent, and there are reports of more than a few Brits (and Americans) traveling to Syria to fight on behalf of ISIS. So these jihadi “internationalists” could always just fly back to either Britain or the US, where another 9/11 would shortly be in the works.

Let’s put aside the FBI statement that, while Americans abroad may be in some unspecified degree of danger, ISIS represents “no credible threat” to the continental United States. If we take the ISIS-threatens-us-at-home war propaganda seriously we have to believe Western law enforcement agencies, with all the tools at their command – including near total surveillance of online and telephonic communications worldwide – have no idea what dubious characters have traveled to Syria via, say, New York or London, and would in any case be powerless to prevent their return.

In short, we have to invade yet another country (or two) because our own post-9/11 security arrangements are virtually nonexistent – in spite of having spent untold billions on building them up.

Can that really be true?

If we step back from the hysteria generated by the beheading of US journalist James Foley, what’s clear is that this new bogeyman is the creation of the United States and its allies in the region.

ISIS didn’t just arise out of the earth like some Islamist variation on the fabled Myrmidons: they needed money, weapons, logistics, propaganda facilities, and international connections to reach the relatively high level of organization and lethality they seem to have achieved in such a short period of time. Where did they get these assets?

None of this is any secret: Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the rest of the oil-rich Gulf states have been backing them all the way. Prince Bandar al-Sultan, until recently the head of the Kingdom’s intelligence agency – and still the chief of its National Security Council – has been among their biggest backers. Qatar and the Gulf states have also been generous in their support for the Syrian jihadists who were too radical for the US to openly back. Although pressure from Washington – only recently exerted – has reportedly forced them to cut off the aid, ISIS is now an accomplished fact – and how can anyone say that support has entirely evaporated instead of merely going underground?

Washington’s responsibility for the success of ISIS is less direct, but no less damning.

The US was in a de facto alliance with the groups that merged to form ISIS ever since President Barack Obama declared Syria’s Bashar al-Assad “must go” – and Washington started funding Syrian rebel groups whose composition and leadership kept changing. By funding the Free Syrian Army (FSA), our “vetted” Syrian Islamists, this administration has actively worked to defeat the only forces capable of rooting out ISIS from its Syrian nest – Assad’s Ba’athist government. Millions of dollars in overt aid – and who knows how much covertly? – were pumped into the FSA. How much of that seeped into the coffers of ISIS when constantly forming and re-forming chameleon-like rebel groups defected from the FSA? These defectors didn’t just go away: they joined up with more radical – and militarily effective – Islamist militias, some of which undoubtedly found their way to ISIS.

How many ISIS cadres who started out in the FSA were trained and equipped by American “advisors” in neighboring Jordan? We’ll never know the exact answer to that question, but the number is very likely not zero – and this Mother Jones piece shows that, at least under the Clinton-Petraeus duo, the “vetting” process was a joke. Furthermore, Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) may well have been on to something when he confronted Hillary with the contention that some of the arms looted from Gaddafi’s arsenals may well have reached the Syrian rebels. There was, after all, the question of where that mysterious “charity ship,” the Al Entisar, carrying “humanitarian aid” to the Syrian rebels headquartered in Turkey, sailed from.

Secondly, the open backing by the US of particular Syrian rebel groups no doubt discredited them in the eyes of most Islamist types, driving them away from the FSA and into the arms of ISIS. When it became clear Washington wasn’t going to provide air support for rebel actions on the ground, these guys left the FSA in droves – and swelled the ranks of groups that eventually coalesced into ISIS.

Thirdly, the one silent partner in all this has been the state of Israel. While there is no evidence of direct Israeli backing, the public statements of some top Israeli officials lead one to believe Tel Aviv has little interest in stopping the ISIS threat – except, of course, to urge Washington to step deeper into the Syrian quagmire.

In a recent public event held at the Aspen Institute, former Israeli ambassador to the US Michael Oren bluntly stated that in any struggle between the Sunni jihadists and their Iranian Shi’ite enemies, the former are the “lesser evil.” They’re all “bad guys,” says Oren, but “we always wanted Bashar Assad to go, we always preferred the bad guys who weren’t backed by Iran to the bad guys who were backed by Iran.” Last year, Sima Shine, Israel’s Minister of Strategic Affairs, declared:

"The alternative, whereby [Assad falls and] Jihadists flock to Syria, is not good. We have no good options in Syria. But Assad remaining along with the Iranians is worse. His ouster would exert immense pressure on Iran.”

None of this should come as much of a surprise to anyone who has been following Israel’s machinations in the region. It has long been known that the Israelis have been standing very close to the sidelines of the Syrian civil war, gloating and hoping for “no outcome,” as this New York Times piece put it.

Israel’s goal in the region has been to gin up as much conflict and chaos as possible, keeping its Islamic enemies divided, making it impossible for any credible challenge to arise among its Arab neighbors – and aiming the main blow at Tehran. As Ambassador Oren so brazenly asserted – while paying lip service to the awfulness of ISIS and al-Qaeda – their quarrel isn’t really with the Arabs, anyway – it’s with the Persians, whom they fear and loathe, and whose destruction has been their number one objective since the days of Ariel Sharon.

Why anyone is shocked that our Middle Eastern allies have been building up Sunni radicals in the region is beyond me – because this has also been de facto US policy since the Bush administration, which began recruiting American assets in the Sunni region as the linchpin of the Iraqi “surge.” This was part and parcel of the so-called “Sunni turn,” or “redirection,” in Seymour Hersh’s phrase, which, as I warned in 2006, would become Washington’s chosen strategy for dealing with what they called the “Shia crescent” – the crescent-shaped territory spanning Iran, Iraq, Syria, and parts of Lebanon under Hezbollah’s control, which the neocons began pointing to as the Big New Threat shortly after Saddam Hussein’s defeat.

The pro-Sunni orientation of US policymakers wasn’t reversed with the change of administrations: instead, it went into overdrive, especially after the much-vaunted Arab Spring. Both Hillary Clinton, then Secretary of State, and David Petraeus, who had yet to disgrace himself and was still CIA director, lobbied intensively for more support to the Syrian rebels. The Sunni Turn took a fateful turn when the Three Harpies of the Apocalypse – Hillary, Susan Rice, and now UN ambassador Samantha Power – hectored Obama into pursuing regime change in Libya. In this case the US and its NATO allies acted as the Islamist militia’s air force while supplying them with arms on the ground and diplomatic support internationally.

Yet even as Libya was imploding from the effects of its “liberation,” the neocons and their “liberal” interventionist allies in the Democratic party – and in the highest reaches of the Obama administration – were building support for yet another fateful “Sunni turn,” this time in Syria. Caving to this pressure, the Obama administration decided to act on accusations of poison gas supposedly used by Assad against the rebels to directly intervene with a bombing campaign modeled along Libyan lines. Only a huge public outcry stopped them.

ISIS could never have been consolidated in the form it has now taken without the strategic disaster of Washington’s “Sunni turn.” While the US may have reason to regret this harebrained strategy, it’s far too late for that – and it looks to me like our “allies” in the region, including Israel, aren’t about to turn on a dime at Obama’s command.

Last year around this time Vladimir Putin very publicly warned against the scenario we are seeing unfold in the Middle East:

“If Assad goes today, a political vacuum emerges – who will fill it? Maybe those terrorist organizations. Nobody wants this – but how can it be avoided? After all, they are armed and aggressive.”

Now that Putin’s prediction has come to pass, we’re too busy confronting him in Ukraine – and dreaming of the day we can do to him what we did to Assad – to acknowledge it. But you can hear the gears of our policymaking machine screaming in protest as Washington does an abrupt about-face and starts cooperating with Assad – previously denounced as the latest edition of Adolph Hitler – by sharing intelligence enabling the Syrian army to target ISIS positions.

We have always been at war with Eurasia. Or is that Eastasia? I forget.

The lesson of all this?

What a tangled web we weave when first we practice to intervene. And deceive – this administration has not only been lying to the American people about the nature of the Syrian “liberators” we’ve been funding with their tax dollars, they also been deceiving themselves. The Sunni Turn has turned on them, and with a vengeance.

The ancient Greeks had a word for the particular sin committed by our political class: they called it hubris– a mindset generated by the belief that humankind can defy the gods and get away with it. Yet the divine pantheon of Olympus had a way of giving these malefactors their comeuppance: they sent the goddess Nemesis to avenge such sacrilege – and she was relentless in her pursuit. The word nemesis has come down to us to mean “the inescapable agent of someone’s or something’s downfall” – and that is as succinct an explanation of the origins of ISIS as we are likely to come across.

Okay, so the anti-interventionists told us so – but now what? What should the United States do about ISIS now that they’ve taken over half of Syria and a third of Iraq?

The answer is: let Assad, the Iranians, the Turks, and, yes, the Russians take care of it, since they are the states directly threatened by the growth of the so-called Islamic State. Why should we fight their war for them?

Contrary to the War Party’s hebephrenic appeals to intervene, inaction on our part is key to the destruction of ISIS. The Grand Caliph of the Islamic State would like nothing more than to be able to portray ISIS as the valiant opponent of a US reentry into the region. It would be a tremendous propaganda victory for them to be able to frame their cause in this context because the result would be a successful international recruiting drive that would fill the ranks of the Islamic State’s army even as hundreds are killed by US drones and missile strikes.

By letting nature take its course and permitting Iraq’s predatory neighbors to gobble up the charred remains of the Iraqi state we destroyed, we can solve a problem we created in the first place, albeit not without incurring the inevitable cost of our initial error – which was invading Iraq in the first place.

ISIS has made a big deal out of declaring the end of the Sykes-Picot agreement, which divided the region between British and French interests at the end of World War I. Having declared their “Islamic State,” ISIS claims to have destroyed the status quo by militarily – and, to much notice, symbolically – erasing the border between Syria and Iraq. The claim is laughable: a ragtag”army” of perhaps 17,000 fighters couldn’t have achieved that without some significant outside help, not only from the Saudis and the Qataris but, decisively, from Washington.

We abolished Sykes-Picot by effectively putting an end to Iraqi statehood. The process was completed when Washington subsequently allied with Iraq’s Sunni tribesmen in a vain hope to avoid the break up of Iraq and drive Al Qaeda out of the country. What happened, instead, was that the Sunni tribesmen’s brothers across the by-then-virtually-nonexistent border were drawn into the Iraqi arena, where they took up the fight against Baghdad – and their American backers.

ISIS didn’t blast Sykes-Picot to pieces: we did, and now we must live with the consequences. Nemesis has taken her pound of flesh.

The best course now is to learn the lesson every child has to absorb before he can attain adulthood in more than merely a physical sense: actions have consequences. Applied to the Middle East, this lesson can only have one meaning: stay out and keep out.

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john39's picture

the U.S. and Israel are not fooling too many people around the world with their frankenstein creation, Isis:

Newsboy's picture

NATO needs to do a big new war, and has to have at least one suitable enemy.

The Russians are being uncooperative.

Fortunately, beheading an American reporter on TV at just the right time seems to be working well. Buy General Dynamics, and so on.

Tabarnaque's picture

Here is an interesting RT article about IS' Chechen military mastermind. The CIA was and remains very active in funding an Islamic rebellion in Chechnya. Weather IS is a deliberate creation of the USSA or not remains to be seen. But at least we know that IS' leadership definitely received military training from the US military.


Iraq’s Chechen commander


The next bizarre part of the ISIS puzzle involves the Jihadist credited with being the ‘military mastermind’ of the recent ISIS victories, Tarkhan Batirashvili. If his name doesn’t sound very Arabic, it’s because it’s not. Tarkhan Batrashvili is a Russian - actually an ethnic Chechen from near the Chechen border to Georgia. But to give himself a more Arabic flair, he also goes by the name Emir (what else?) Umar al Shishani. The problem is he doesn’t look at all Arabic. No dark swarthy black beard: rather a long red beard, a kind of Chechen Barbarossa.


Jeffrey Silverman, Georgia Bureau Chief for the US-based Veterans Today (VT) website, told me that Batrashvili “is a product of a joint program of the US through a front NGO called Jvari, which was set up by US Intelligence and the Georgian National Security Council, dating back to the early days of the Pankisi Gorge.”

mrmister's picture

Dudes we have been over this. ISIS is a pre existing US military contractor that had contracts to train in IRAQ see the official website.


John Wilmot's picture

The overarching purpose of US grand strategy in the Middle East is to strike at Russia's "soft underbelly."

That's why the loss of Iran in 1979 was so catastrophic for them, and why they're so obsessed with retaking Iran.

Not about oil (that's just $), Russia (that's world domination).

And the US and friends have been supporting Islamist terrorism within Russia for a long time.

Remember why they created the Afghan mujaheddin in the first place.


BLOTTO's picture

Why can't ISIS give us intelligence on ISIS?


International Security and Intelligence Services.


'ISIS exists for one purpose: To provide government and business the sophisticated intelligence, technology, security and training they need to support and protect national and corporate interests in the most challenging of global environments. All with the utmost professionalism, transparency, and integrity.'

– Don Wright, President & CEO


And they have a location in Iraq - hows the 'sophisticated intelligence' going?



John Wilmot's picture

That's quite funny..

Maybe that's where the CIA got the name

herohedge's picture

Formerly "Integrated System Improvement Services"*/

But you can find the ISIS acronym anywhere:

Amusingly, also in a Chuck episode:

The CIA operation was code-named Isis; however, intelligence recovered by John Casey from a former NSA contact indicated that Isis was canceled some 20 years earlier after Mary went rogue


AUD's picture

Not just the US, but UK, France & others. Hence the Crimean War, where the UK & France teamed up with the Ottomans to wage war against a fellow Christian empire. That said, the Chechens have been battling the Russians at least as far back as the Crimean War.

This is an interesting article regarding current events -

John Wilmot's picture

Yes, the US has simply picked up where Britain left off.

First they finished off France (1815).

Then Germany (1945).

They've been working on Russia for a long time (tried a big color revolution in 1917 which seemed to backfire), haven't quite succeeded yet.

An American or other Westerner, while loathing our own governments' policies, has to be careful however not to sympathize with Russia (the Russian state, that is, sympathize all you like with the Russian people), because this is purely a matter of power politics. There is no ideological struggle. If Russia were in a position to do the same to the US, it would. This is power-hungry cunts playing chess with billions of lives: same as it ever was.


Sandmann's picture

Well the Kuhn Loeb bank did fund Lenin's crowd as did a large philathropist in Cincinnati but much of the docs are still under lock and key at The Hoover Institute in Californioa where Kerensky's Cabinet papers are housed

luckystars's picture

I don't see Russia as any kind of threat to us. The power hungry cunts running the west are the big threat to us. They will destroy USA to achieve world domination.

fleur de lis's picture

The Ottomans got lured into an alliance that the schemers knew would lose because they planned it that way in the 1890's. The Sultan put the Hejaz Railway up for collateral. After the War the victors used it for the oil trade. The Russian Empie was still Christian, the others were nominally Christian because they had already been infiltrated and usurped from within. Not even the army commanders were in on the scam. They were all cannon fodder from private to officer and everybody in between, along with their societies. Like us.

daemon's picture

" The overarching purpose of US grand strategy in the Middle East is to strike at Russia's "soft underbelly." "

Definitely. As some Russian people have claimed it numerous times, it's all about hunting "The Bear". The author of the article seems to completely ignore that point. It's particularly clear when he writes :"  The answer is: let Assad, the Iranians, the Turks, and, yes, the Russians take care of it, since they are the states directly threatened by the growth of the so-called Islamic State. Why should we fight their war for them? "

Sure, it is their war ..... specially brought to them by the West, through a cardboard army which may possibly have already completed one of it's objectives, judging by the article.

Don't worry, it was meant to be a NATO war since the beginning. And chances are, it will end up with pipelines crossing Syria, from Qatar to Europe. After that, stay tuned ... "The Bear" has found a new friend (at least temporarily) : "The Panda".

luckystars's picture

The big slap in the face is the loss of Crimea with black sea port back to Russia.

daemon's picture

" The big slap in the face is the loss of Crimea with black sea port back to Russia. "

Possible, but don't forget that Bosphorus is currently situated in a NATO country(of course, it was no coincidence that Turkey was incorporated in NATO), .....  in case of extreme crisis......

AnAnonymous's picture

That is a good one. A good 'american' one.

How old is the CIA? The Chechnya stance is older than the CIA. At best, the CIA took advantage of the situation.

Self determination of people, another measure of 'americanism' spreading.

It is how 'americans' work, they distort facts in order that responsibility means nothing. They are responsible of nothing or everything, which means responsibility does not exist.

The CIA is nip in Chechnya, which is older than the CIA.

Hugh G Rection's picture

Funny how that blunted knife showed no edge and no blood appeared after 6 back and forths from the proxy boogyman.


Anyone else notice the same kind of buildup as before 9/11?  I think they're getting ready for FALSE FLAG 2.0

john39's picture

War is close now.  THEY are going to openly attack syria, using isis as the set up.  How very convenient.

Hugh G Rection's picture

2 hasbarats thumbs downed their way through the comments whilst stuffing their fat faces with bagels.

BringOnTheAsteroid's picture

I don't get this. If the US attacks Syria are they going after Assad or ISIS ?????????

If they are going after ISIS then they're assisting Assad, right?

If they are going after Assad, they're assisting ISIS, right?

Oh, oh, hang on a sec, or are they going after Assad and ISIS to assist Syrian oil to be cheaper and more available to the US?

Sandmann's picture

CHAOS is the US policy to remove all threats to Zion

Seize Mars's picture

It's all fake. All of it.




Ignatius's picture

Terrorism is theatre - the greatest organizing principle ever.

It's not about what was done to Foley, but how we react to it.  It's not about the 3,000 souls who lost their lives on 9/11, but how populations were cowed into accepting the draconian fallout.

Drunk In Church's picture

America created ISIS by choosing stability over freedom.  We should have stood beside Assad and Saddam till the bitter end.  They kept the loonies towing the line.

CuttingEdge's picture

3000 on 9/11 and we still talk about it 13 years on like it was only yesterday.

2000 Palestinians dead this month and it will be forgotton in no time.

The value of a human life (in the US government's opinion at least) appears directly proportionate to the shade of its skin.

If you like your genocide, you can keep your genocide...


Questions used to be asked how the German people claimed to be in ignorance of the nazis' machinations right to the end. I wonder whether or not 50 years from now, when China are running things, and the US hegemony is but a painful memory for most of the world (given how much of it they have trashed in the last 60 years or so), the same questions will be asked of the American (and British) people.  Probably get blamed on the distractions of Kim Kardashian and Justin Bieber.






zerocash's picture

They care about the 6000 dead Eastern Ukrainian civilians even less and last time I checked they were white.

tvdog's picture

The reason the German people were ignorant of the Nazis' "final solution" to the Jewish problem was that there never was such a policy.

Kirk2NCC1701's picture

But Organized Religion is by far and wide the biggest and longest-running mass-deception perpetrated on mankind.

The ignorant believe it, the wise do not, and leaders find it useful. And the rich love it, as it keeps the poor from murdering the rich, and the poor and downtrodden glam on to the only thing that can't be taxed or stolen: Hope. Although hope is fantastic and important, it is Religious/Organized Hope that keeps these people from taking action that could truly improve their lives and the world. It truly is the Opiate that keeps them enslaved.

BringOnTheAsteroid's picture

Talk to some of the people here, JLee, Seek_Truth, Tall Tom and they have gone to extraordinary lengths to convince themselves that this invisible grey bearded skyman is real. These are not silly people, they seem well read, highly literate, reasonable human beings. But these holy books, the pull they have on people is deeply mysterious. I can only assume before holy books, it was holy rocks, holy gems holy sticks, holy suns, holy moons, holy animals. I think it is the human mind externalising their internal reality, in effect, making their internal universe real in the external world. In computer geek terms, instantiating their internal universe in the physical world.

Fascinating stuff and provides a powerful insight into the human mind. 

drdolittle's picture

Hey, I get it. I don't want to die either. I'd rather believe I can live forever in my current ego form in a special, perpetually happy, heavenly place. But I can't get myself to buy it. I tried to believe but it seems bad fantasy. As Carlin said, you'll spend eternity in a firey pit if you disobey-but he loves you. The bible is the literal word of God, written by men who have free will and edited by King James to suit his purposes. But, it's perfectly infallible. Too much of a sceptic for all that.

BringOnTheAsteroid's picture

Why don't you want to die? You spent eternity not alive in the first place and I have never heard a single person complain how horrible not existing before birth was.

We are so complicated and we over complicate things obsessively. We live. We die. Justice as we define it is not meted out evenly or fairly.

The end.

CuttingEdge's picture
+1000 Kirk



“It is convenient that there be gods, and, as it is convenient, let us believe there are.”

Ovid 43BC - 17AD


The promise of a wonderful next life (if they are good) to keep the masses grinding away at their current shitty one, rather than those masses putting their complete faith in their own ability and determination to make this one the best they can.

I will say though, that lure of 72 vestal virgins in the afterlife is a hell of a draw for any young bloke sitting on the fence about which one to commit himself to.

drdolittle's picture

Although 72 virgins is a crapshoot and a lot of training. Give me 72 former whores (no stds in heaven after all). They'd rock your afterlife good.

Winston Churchill's picture

All those people searching for something thats actually between their ears.

I did the same at one point, looking for something I was already carrying around

with me, on my travels.

acetinker's picture

Winston 'gets it'.  Thank you, sir!

BringOnTheAsteroid's picture

Humans are comical. Talk about religion being one gigantic red herring.

acetinker's picture

Some believe in God.  Others believe there is no God.  Most believe in some religion or another.  I can't say you're wrong just as I can't say you're right, and neither can you. ( I love fuckin wth atheists ).

Which is it?  Do you deny a power higher than yourself or do you declare that you, yourself are the higher power, capable of creating yourself?

Make a single blade of grass grow without benefit of soil, sun and God's benevolence, and I will join your team.

BringOnTheAsteroid's picture

What the hell do you mean "make a blade of grass grow"?

If this is fucking with atheists you've got me.

Grow dammit, grow - nah, I give up, the seed won't do anything.

acetinker's picture

I mean exactly what drives you idiot fucksticks crazy.  Plant the grass seed in youy bellly-button for all I care.  Become a lawn.

luckystars's picture

Christian religion has been infiltrated by Jews. I sensed something was wrong as a child, which is why I never embraced it.

That however does not mean I have rejected God, just stay clear of their propaganda.

luckystars's picture

Creator of all that you see and don't see.

acetinker's picture

luckystars 'gets it', too!  Excellent!  Any more where you came from?