Proxy war and the arming of Al Qaeda

The American people have no desire to send U.S. troops into more foreign wars, so the U.S. government is arming Syrian rebels to serve as our proxies for overthrowing the rule of Bashir al-Assad.   By channeling arms to the “moderate” rebel forces, the Obama administration hopes to prevent Assad from being replaced by radical Al Qaeda jihadists.

Forces in Syria as of March

Forces in Syria as of March

As Pepe Escobar wrote in his latest column for Asia Times, the problem with that is the troops aligned with Al Qaeda are the fiercest fighters, and they’re getting all the weapons and support they want from the Saudi Arabian government.   They also are working to overthrow the Shiite government of Anwar al-Maliki in Iraq.  A possible result of the Syrian rebellion is two new governments aligned with Al Qaeda—Syria and Iraq.

Such governments, unlike the Saddam, Qaddafi and Assad regimes, really might be a threat to Americans—not to the existence of the United States, but to us Americans as individuals.  This is another good reason for the U.S. government to make peace with Iran and form an alliance against Al Qaeda.

Another example of bad consequences of a proxy war is given by Ian Welsh (whose web log is the newest addition to my Blogs I Like links page).   He wrote about how the attack by Muslim terrorists on the Nairobi Mall in Kenya was blowback from a U.S.-inspired Kenyan invasion of Somalia.

I am reminded of Adam Smith’s comment about how masterminds who think they can manipulate other people like pieces of a chessboard forget that the chessmen are playing their own games, which may be different from what the mastermind intended.

I think there are two good rules for the United States for intervening in foreign wars.

  1. Don’t arm our avowed enemies.
  2. Don’t attack people who are not our enemies.

LINKS

How the US is enabling Syriastan by Pepe Escobar.  This is, among other things, a good guide to the fighting factions in Syria and their foreign supporters.

Did Iran win the US-Iraq War? by D.S. Wright for FireDogLake.  Maybe it did, but better Iran than Al Qaeda.

Qassem Suleimani, the Middle East’s Most Powerful Operative by Dexter Filkins for the New Yorker.   This article, about what a top Iranian agent and fighter did in Iraq and Syria, made me realize how little I know about the struggle for power in the Middle East.

Destroying the Islamic Courts Union in Somalia Caused the Nairobi Mall Attack by Ian Welsh.  This is a classic example of blowback.

Al Shabaab’s war with Kenya: terrorist group ‘may even have surprised itself’ on Euronews.

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