‘American tax payer-paid weapons bombing American tax payer-paid equipment in Iraq’
Derek Monroe is a writer/reporter and consultant based in Illinois, USA. He has reported on international and US foreign policy issues from Latin America, Poland, Japan, Iraq, Ukraine, Sri Lanka and India. His work appeared in Foreign Policy in Focus, Alternet, Truthout and Ohmynews, and has been published in over 20 countries.
RT:Why is Washington looking to form an anti-Islamic State Western coalition do you think? Why not just go it alone?
Derek Monroe: I think the issue here is gaining some degree of credibility because there are so many mistakes in our foreign policy, specifically in the past 12 months. On the one hand, we were supporting the Free Syrian Army and indirectly also the ISIS in Syria fighting the Assad regime, and then when they crossed over into Iraq last December when they took over the Western part of Iraq and they started jeopardizing our own oil concessions in Northern Kurdistan, then basically the idea was that we have to get involved officially for humanitarian reasons. I think there is definitely a lot of pressure from the corporate world, specifically oil companies, to make sure that our day-to-day business would not be interrupted. And also the official version of the intervention in Northern Iraq against ISIS is basically to protect our personnel, whether it is military, or diplomatic, or corporate. So there is just variety of different reasons why we are getting involved there now.
RT:Officials in Washington are growing exponentially worried over the number of American citizens joining the Islamic State. They say its 'hundreds' now. How will the US respond?
DM: I think it also depends on that degree, how you are counting the numbers. Officially the media here in the US are talking about between 140 and 160. However, because of Turkey`s open door policy for people who really want to practice jihad going to Syria and Northern Iraq where they simply don`t trace the people, or make it very easy for them to enter Syria and Iraq, the situation is such that it is very hard to count people who are missing. There are definitely more than 140-150 people in this part of the world whether they were fighting for the IS directly or they were fighting for the Free Syrian Army or they are doing whatever. And it is really kind of hard to determine at this point. So a hundred will be very moderate estimation.
RT:What are the chances some of these American citizens will create problems back in the US?
DM: It might be. There was a situation last year where there was one traveler which was held over in Indonesia and [was] a US passport holder, after being interrogated by local authorities, the in US consul has given an explanation that entry to the US is a privilege, not a right, which is really constitutional at this point. I think it will be very hard especially in the United States to basically prohibit American citizens to enter the United States because it is a constitutional right to go back to your own country. However, a lot of worries have been hyped up in the media justifiably or not, so it is matter of debate that the people who would be coming back from the front lines would also have an ulterior purpose to do here at home, which is at this point based on hype and exaggerated fear.
RT:The US is being accused of creating the Islamic State monster itself, by overwhelming the region with arms that eventually fell in the hands of the militants. Do you agree with this?
DM: Unfortunately this is true because US foreign policy is not only shortsighted but it also has history of backing up extremist movements not only Islamic, but also in Latin America and other places which happen to serve our political and economic interests “du jour.” Unfortunately in many other cases like it was before there is definitely a blowback. This is what is really happening with IS in Syria and Iraq right now. It is the perfect example of this. Our weapons are supposed to support the Free Syrian Army, [but] in Lebanon one of the commanders of the Free Syrian Army switched sides fighting for ISIS bringing all the weapons and supplies with him. It is truly a very difficult situation which is really rather ironic where the American tax payer-paid weapons and bombs, are bombing the American tax payer-paid equipment such as Humvees. So it is really kind of ironic in some ways, but there is also a lot of human misery behind it.
RT:What's going to happen to US-Syria relations now that the Assad regime and Washington have a common enemy?
DM: Yes and what is really unspoken right now in Washington circles is the situation in Iran. Iran has also been very actively fighting ISIS. So there is some very closed conversation taking place in Washington right now to basically console the degree of coordination against IS with Iran for example. So it seems to me that yesterday`s enemy is today`s friend and tomorrow`s friend can be yesterday`s enemy. So in a way the situation is very convoluted and it is very kind of difficult to trace who is going to be allying with whom against whom. The situation is very fluid but here is definitely some type of degree of conversation right now where the Assad regime is supposedly right, and we should not fight against it whatsoever. But, as I said before, that is something that is being currently discussed in a variety of different political circles and how it is going to be in the end played out. It is going to be eventually reported by media which I don`t think often get the whole story to begin with. So it is all matter for debate.