‘Psychological victory’: Special op against ISIS chief in Syria put US boots on the ground
RT:Washington did not inform Damascus about this operation apparently. What sort of reaction would you expect from Syria over this?
Ivan Eland: I would expect Syrians to object to it; it is against international law. But of course the US is waging a war in Syria, and this is only one part of it. The US has been bombing in Syria, so that is also a violation of international law.
But this is a special forces raid. This is people on the ground – at least for a short time – shooting it out with ISIS fighters. They were trying to capture this guy, but they ended up killing him because I guess he resisted.
RT:Does this complicate the fight against ISIS [Islamic State] in any way given that Syria also sees ISIS as the enemy and will be fighting them? But given the fact the US special forces appear to have basically been on the ground in Syria to attack ISIS, how will this affect things going forward? Presumably this will make it even more difficult now to form any sort of joint alliance with Syria to fight ISIS?
IE: Well there has never been an alliance. I think there may have been some tacit cooperation. But the US of course is steaming ahead trying to get rid of Assad. I think that was the major purpose of the meeting between Kerry and Putin. He wanted to make progress doing that, but I don’t think that they are going to get Russia to agree with that.
In the US this is being portrayed as a psychological victory. When they start talking, now where you know it is not really going to have that much effect on the battlefield. This guy was essentially the minister of oil for ISIS. Of course they do get quite a substantial bit of funding from oil. But they are just going to replace him.
You really can't kill your way out of these insurgencies. As I say in my book, ‘The Failure of Counterinsurgency’, you really have to change the dynamic.
This is more of the same that is causing the problem. The real problem which the US really never told its people here in the US is that the reason for 9/11 terror attacks and other terror attacks against the US is the fact that it is the non-Muslim occupation or attacks on Muslim land. Of course this is another attack on Muslim land, so it just makes the overall problem worse.
Even though it is a tactical or a temporary victory getting this guy, they’ll just replace him. And often times in the war it is a revolutionary hot house, where the guy who replaces him will be more ruthless and cunning than the guy who did not make it.
RT:Who do you think has the upper hand at the moment?
IE: Well ISIS is not as threatening to the Iraqi government as it used to be. Of course they just took Ramadi, which is major provincial capital in Iraq. So I’m not sure much progress is being made in Iraq against ISIS. But certainly in Syria probably less progress, because we have no forces on the ground.
In Iraq we have Kurds and the Shiite militias to help us, to provide some sort of a ground force. In Syria, there is nobody except the Syrian government, and as you’ve pointed out earlier the US and Syria don’t get along. I’ve always been mystified why the US wants to undermine Assad. I mean he stabilizes the part of Syria which he still controls. And he is not ISIS or al-Nusra which is an al-Qaeda front. So it is either that – jihadis or Assad. And US continues trying to take him out.
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