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    February 3, 2016

    Why Finishing off ISIS Is Not a Priority

    Translated by Sufyan Jan for Fort Russ
    3rd February, 2016




    Finishing off ISIS is not a priority for Western powers, for reasons relating to economic and military interests in the Middle East.

    When Anbar and Ninoy tribes raided the city of Mosul back in June 2014, these tribes, followed by ISIS, claimed the victory to itself and overshadowed the influence of the tribes. Iraq was governed by Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki who threw the Americans out of Iraq, and opened the doors of cooperation with Iran, so much so that almost every deal between the Prime minister, government cabinet, as well as the major and minor political parties and blocks, whether Sunni, Shi’a, or Kurds, were sketched and brokered in Tehran and Beirut.

    Washington stood by as armed opposition against Baghdad grew, especially ISIS. It wanted ISIS to sow the seeds of destruction in Syria and Iraq; these allegations were confirmed by retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), in a report he had submitted to the US administration back in 2012.

    There is no doubt that Iran’s increasing influence in the region harms US interests, and the interests of other regional players. The US moved to contain ISIS but not to destroy it, when it headed towards the oil rich city of Kirkuk, and the Kurdish capital of Erbil, where regional and international interests are present, in the form of military cooperation, and oil extraction contracts, it is also used by the CIA as a launching base for its operations in the region.

    From this we can conclude that destroying ISIS would harm US interests because there would be no military excuse to be there, and hence Tehran would regain control of Iraq. Baghdad under Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi is convinced that the US can provide aerial and technological assistance for the Iraqi intellegence community, thus enabling security forces to strike ISIS where it hurts. Iran has been able to use the call of Seyyed Ali Al-Sistani to form the Popular Mobilization Forces enabling Tehran to regain a foothold in Iraq, by forming an alternative to the current security forces, and offering an alternative to Haider Al-Abadi that can challenge him in the future.

    As long as ISIS is around the US will retain its presence in the region, the real danger comes from Turkey violating Iraq’s sovereignty and pronouncements by the Kurds to secede and end the Sykes-Picot agreement.

    ISIS’ entry - under the banner of Jabhat Al-Nusra in 2011 with the whole world watching - into Syria was welcomed to topple the regime of President Bashar Assad, slowly Al-Nusra’s influence grew and embedded itself in the Syrian society becoming a part of it until Al-Baghdadi announced ISIS-Nusra merger, after that dissent and in-house fighting commenced between the jihadists themselves. At the same time Hezbollah went into Syria in 2013 all guns blazing, Iran decided that it would deliver financial, and economic aid to the Syrian military and civilian establishments, this did not irk the West though they much preferred Assad to be out of the picture.

    “If I had to choose between ISIS and Iran, I’d choose ISIS”, said Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon. ISIS doesn’t worry Israel for several reasons, chief among them is its military experience and capabilities are not up to scratch with that of Hezbollah, that’s been in the making since 1982. Those precision missiles that Hezbollah possesses worries Israel more than the primitive IED’s that are used by ISIS, in this way ISIS can act as Israel’s buffer zone-were it to be situated in the Golan heights or Quneitra- against the expansion of Hezbollah or the Islamic resistance in Syria.

    Israel says “it can annihilate ISIS in a few hours or days” but it prefers that it lingers because ISIS does not attach itself to any power axis and it has no political future. Thus it is necessary that ISIS keeps fighting against the resistance axis inhibiting the advance of groups like Hezbollah.

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