Monday, October 17, 2016

Using the Islamic State to Counter Iran - The Israeli Solution

Updated October 2017

Before you start reading this posting, I must apologize for its length.  Since the subject has a lot of "moving parts", I wanted to be certain that I presented all of the background necessary to understand the importance of main focus of this posting, an article that appeared on a Middle East think-tank website that outlines Israel's position on the eradication of the Islamic State.

A relatively recent piece on the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (BESA) by Professor Efriam Inbar provides us with a rather different viewpoint on the continued existence of the Islamic State.  Since most of us have not heard of BESA, it was founded in 1993 by Dr. Thomas Hecht, a Canadian Jewish community leader as an independent and non-partisan institute affiliated with the political science department at Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan, Israel.  Since its founding, it has been directed by the aforementioned Professor Efriam Inbar, an authority on the Arab-Israeli conflict and an expert on Israeli strategic doctrines, national security issues and nuclear matters.  Most interestingly, in 2009, BESA was chosen by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as the venue from which he would publicize his key diplomatic policies.  Now, let's look at the recent offering of Professor Efriam Inbar starting with the opening two paragraphs:

"US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter recently gathered defense ministers from allied nations to plan what officials hope will be the decisive stage in the campaign to eradicate the Islamic State (IS) organization. This is a strategic mistake.

IS, a radical Islamist group, has killed thousands of people since it declared an Islamic caliphate in June 2014, with the Syrian city of Raqqa as its de facto capital. It captured tremendous international attention by swiftly conquering large swaths of land and by releasing gruesome pictures of beheadings and other means of execution."

Let's look at a bit of background first.  Back in January 2016, Ashton Carter met with his counterpart, French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian in Paris and announced the following:

"ISIL is a cancer that’s threatening to spread. And like all cancers, you can’t cure the disease just by cutting out the tumor. You have to eliminate it wherever it has spread, and stop it from coming back."

He also stated the following:

"Any nation that cares about the safety of its people or the future of its civilization must know this: The United States and strong partners like France will continue to lead the fight, but there can be no free riders....Our campaign to deliver ISIL a lasting defeat, at its source and wherever it rears its head, is far from over. But the outcome is certain.  Our campaign will continue to adapt and build on our success, as ISIL’s territory decreases, its resources dwindle, and local, capable forces gain the capacity to not only win on the field of battle, but to lay the foundation for lasting security in the region, and a more secure future for the world.

At a press conference held after the July 20, 2016 meeting with 30 leaders and defence ministers from around the globe, Mr. Carter stated the following:

"I want to begin by thanking all of my counterparts, all of the ministers of defense from all of the nations represented here today at another one of our full counter-ISIL meetings of defense ministers from the entire coalition.

This is something we've done and we're going to do periodically, and I thank them for joining us as we continue to rigorous evaluate, plan the next steps of and further accelerate our campaign to deliver ISIL a lasting defeat...

As I said earlier today, our coalition's military campaign plan has three objectives.  First, to destroy the ISIL parent tumor in Iraq and Syria.  That's necessary, but it's not sufficient.  As recent attacks remind us, ISIL safe havens threaten not only the lives of Iraqi and Syrian people, but also the security of our own citizens.

And the sooner we defeat ISIL in Iraq and Syria, the safer our countries will be.  

So our second objective is to combat ISIL's metastasizes everywhere they emerge around the world.  And third, and most important, to help protect our homelands."

When you combine the comments from both meetings, it is pretty clear that the American Secretary of Defense will be satisfied with nothing short of complete eradication of the Islamic State wherever it exists.

Now, let's go back to Professor Inbar's perspective on the issue, remembering that his organization is closely linked with the current Israeli Prime Minister:  

"But IS is primarily successful where there is a political void. Although the offensives in Syria and Iraq showed IS’s tactical capabilities, they were directed against failed states with weakened militaries. On occasions when the poorly trained IS troops have met well-organized opposition, even that of non-state entities like the Kurdish militias, the group’s performance has been less convincing. When greater military pressure was applied and Turkish support dwindled, IS went into retreat.

It is true that IS has ignited immense passion among many young and frustrated Muslims all over the world, and the caliphate idea holds great appeal among believers. But the relevant question is what can IS do, particularly in its current situation? The terrorist activities for which it recently took responsibility were perpetrated mostly by lone wolves who declared their allegiance to IS; they were not directed from Raqqa. On its own, IS is capable of only limited damage.

A weak IS is, counterintuitively, preferable to a destroyed IS. IS is a magnet for radicalized Muslims in countries throughout the world. These volunteers are easier targets to identify, saving intelligence work. They acquire destructive skills in the fields of Syria and Iraq that are of undoubted concern if they return home, but some of them acquire shaheed status while still away - a blessing for their home countries. If IS is fully defeated, more of these people are likely to come home and cause trouble.

Moreover, a weak and lingering IS could undermine the attraction of the caliphate idea. A dysfunctional and embattled political entity is more conducive to the disillusionment of Muslim adherents of a caliphate in our times than an IS destroyed by a mighty America-led coalition. The latter scenario perfectly fits the narrative of continuous and perfidious efforts on the part of the West to destroy Islam, which feeds radical Muslim hatred for everything the West stands for."

Let's get to the real goal of Professor Inbar's rather interesting logic of allowing a much-reduced Islamic State to continue to exist:

"The West yearns for stability, and holds out a naive hope that the military defeat of IS will be instrumental in reaching that goal. But stability is not a value in and of itself. It is desirable only if it serves our interests. The defeat of IS would encourage Iranian hegemony in the region, buttress Russia’s role, and prolong Assad’s tyranny. Tehran, Moscow, and Damascus do not share our democratic values and have little inclination to help America and the West.

Moreover, instability and crises sometimes contain portents of positive change. Unfortunately, the Obama administration fails to see that its main enemy is Iran. The Obama administration has inflated the threat from IS in order to legitimize Iran as a “responsible” actor that will, supposedly, fight IS in the Middle East. This was part of the Obama administration’s rationale for its nuclear deal with Iran and central to its “legacy,” which is likely to be ill-remembered." (my bold)

Let's go back to 2015.  Here's what Benjamin Netanyahu had to say about the nuclear deal with Iran:

In light of his concerns about a nuclear Iraq from July 2015, here is what he had to say as a private citizen about another so-called nuclear threat in the region to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on September 12, 2002:

Let's repeat what he said:

"There is no question whatsoever that Saddam is seeking and is working and is advancing towards the development of nuclear weapons – no question whatsoever and there is no question that once he acquires it, history shifts immediately."

Now, let's put all of this together.  The organization that Professor Inbar heads functions as the mouthpiece for Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the same man who used his power (as a civilian) to convince the United States that they had no choice but to eradicate Saddam Hussein because he represented the threat of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East, directly conflicting with the Israeli role as the region's sole nuclear power.  As the coalition forces discovered during the Iraq war, Prime Minister Netanyahu was dead wrong about Saddam Hussein's nuclear program, however, his insistence on the removal of Saddam Hussein did have one unintended consequence, it led to the birth of the Islamic State.  Now, we have Benjamin Netanyahu insisting that the P5+1 nuclear deal with Iran is once again destabilizing the region, allowing Iran to develop its nuclear weapons and increase its control of the region.  To counterbalance Iran's influence, BESA, Netanyahu's "mouthpiece", is suggesting that ISIS be allowed to exist in a much reduced form.  BESA clearly states that the real enemy in the region is Iran, a fact that, in their opinion, seems beyond the comprehension of the Obama Administration, and that the unlikely total defeat of the Islamic State that is the goal of the Americans and their friends will lead to one thing; an increase Iran's hegemony in the region.

I find it fascinating to see that an Israeli think-tank would take the position that the Islamic State should be allowed to exist in a reduced form to provide a political balance against Iran, Israel's avowed enemy-of-the-day in the Middle East.  While I think that the odds of completely defeating the Islamic State are very small, I think that the logic of allowing a form of the Islamic State to continue to exist simply to counter Iran is an extremely self-centred viewpoint on the part of Israel.


  1. When was the last ISIS attack on Israel? Answer is there has never been one. I'm don't know the answer but it is certainly note worthy that Shia groups tend to attack Israel a lot more often then Sunni groups.

    1. In fact, it is note worthy that Israel is in war with a sunni regime called Palestine...In fact, it is note worthy that one of the fierce enemies of Israel was Iraq under the Sunni leadership of Saddam...and in fact, it is not a matter of Sunni and Shia. It is a matter of politics.

      By the way, the article is not about Sunni and Shia...Do you have anything in response to the political maneuvers of Benjamin Netanyahu and his repeated fallacies?

  2. Author is a full moron, saying "Assad tyrany".
    For me is the western democracy a tyrany and a GESTAPO system. Not worth of reading this propaganda piece.