‘Everything US & allies do plays into hands of ISIS’

Dan Glazebrook
Dan Glazebrook is a freelance political writer who has written for RT, Counterpunch, Z magazine, the Morning Star, the Guardian, the New Statesman, the Independent and Middle East Eye, amongst others. His first book “Divide and Ruin: The West’s Imperial Strategy in an Age of Crisis” was published by Liberation Media in October 2013. It featured a collection of articles written from 2009 onwards examining the links between economic collapse, the rise of the BRICS, war on Libya and Syria and 'austerity'. He is currently researching a book on US-British use of sectarian death squads against independent states and movements from Northern Ireland and Central America in the 1970s and 80s to the Middle East and Africa today.
Rebel fighters demonstrate their skills during a military display as part of a graduation ceremony at a camp in eastern al-Ghouta, near Damascus, Syria. © Bassam Khabieh
All the US, UK and France do continuing to help the Syrian insurgency, including giving them weapons, plays into ISIS hands because it has been the leading the insurgency for about a year, says independent political analyst Dan Glazebrook.

Pentagon officials have admitted they do not know the whereabouts of Syrian rebels that they have been training to fight ISIS. The US army also says it cannot confirm whether any of those fighters joined terrorist groups including al-Nusra Front and the Al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria.

READ MORE: US seeks fix to failed training of anti-ISIS Syrian rebels

RT: The US put considerable resources into training Syrian rebel forces. Last year President Obama was calling on Congress to give “additional authorities and resources to train and equip these fighters.” What went wrong?

Dan Glazebrook: What went wrong is that they don’t really have a force to back. The leader of the insurgency, the leading force within the insurgency has been ISIS for the last year or so. They are training and equipping this kind of mythical force that Obama in slightly more lucid moments has admitted was  a myth and a mythical force that never really existed, which was of this kind of liberal democratic secular force that was going to take on ISIS and Al-Qaeda and the government and its supporters. In other words was going to take on pretty much all the actual players in the entire civil war. It was never going to happen – this force doesn’t exist. The reality on the ground in a civil war – civil war is inevitably polarized into two kinds of sides – there might be lots of different positions before the civil war breaks out. But once you’re in a civil war situation, [it] polarizes militarily on the ground into those who support the government and the leading force that is aiming to overthrow, and that now is ISIS.

And all the US, Britain, and France are doing, continuing to do - to aid the insurgency - actually plays into the hands of ISIS, because they give weapons to the Free Syrian Army  or whatever, particular fraction they claim to be backing. What happens time and again: either whole brigades of that force go to join ISIS, or they will take on ISIS and lose, and their weapons will end up in the hands of ISIS either way. So it is a myth that there is a kind of third force that you can just conjure up by pouring weapons into the country. Pouring weapons into the insurgents’ hands - and that boosts ISIS, because ISIS is leading in the insurgency – it is as simple as that.       

RT: Washington initially hoped to train around 15,000 rebels by the end of 2017 to fight the jihadists in Syria. Is that a realistic target?

DG: Well, it is probably not. What are the official figures they released – I think the first batch came through of sixty-odd fighters recently. More lucid officials have admitted that their kind of vetting process ends up excluding pretty much anyone on the ground involved in the fighting. Interviews with some of those they have already trained - have already shown that even those who supposedly made it through the vetting process which is supposed to filter anyone who is going to ally with or work with Al-Qaeda forces, or ISIS forces. I see they’ve interviewed these people who have openly said: “Look, we’re fighting against the government, we’re working with Al-Qaeda, we see them as our brothers,” and so on. For all this rhetoric and for all so-called vetting and so on, the result and the reality of US policies - they are continuing to fund Al-Qaeda and its allies. If they are happy to do that, then they probably can find 15,000 people to train. If they still going to look for these people who don’t exist, then it is going to be very difficult.

U.S. President Barack Obama © Jonathan Ernst

RT: Do you think there is now an understanding within the US government that major mistakes have been made in dealing with the Syrian conflict?

DG: Amongst some parts of it, yes. The admission by those saying that it’s necessary to negotiate with [Bashar] Assad now and so on. More and more people are beginning to see what should have obvious from day one, frankly – which is that there is no military solution to this conflict; there is only a political solution. The [steps?] for a peace plan were outlined by Kofi Annan back in March 2012 – you need to negotiate with the government; all sides need to come to a negotiated settlement. Unfortunately, the US, Britain and France have done all they can to sabotage any possibility of a peaceful settlement by continually calling for Assad to resign and step down and no one can talk to him, etc. This has [resulted in] two things: number one precluded any meaningful negotiations from happening; secondly, hardened the rebels’ stance and give them some kind of false hope that NATO is just around the corner coming to their aid, and so on, and that they should keep fighting and that they shouldn’t talk or compromise anything either. So there are people coming to their senses increasingly. Whether that faction will come to dominate the actual thinking the US government is unfortunately unlikely. But more and more people are coming to their senses.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.