Are we still being fooled?

11-06-2017 09:09 AM

Youssef Sidhom

Youssef Sidhom

Problems on hold

Terrorism is the scourge Egypt has been vehemently and singlehandedly battling on its soil and, when compelled to, outside its borders. Realising it is a plague from which no one in the world is safe, Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi repeatedly called for an international coalition to fight terrorism. Response by the US and EU never went beyond feeble rhetoric; this raised suspicions regarding the intentions and political will of these States to battle terrorism. Curiously, terrorism has time and again levelled hard blows at the US and a number of EU States, yet declarations that followed and pledged to eradicate terrorism remained just that: political declarations. They were never put into action. Terrorism remains as powerful as ever, freely directing blow after blow against spots the world over.
The terrorist ‘Daesh’ organisation—also known as Islamic State, ISIL, and ISIS—and the fierce war currently waged to wipe it off the lands of Iraq and Syria, warrants close observation. Despite news reports that promise an imminent end to Daesh at the hands of the US and EU, the on-the-ground progress towards that goal is the relentless work of the Syrian and Iraqi armies, and does not at all reflect the international power which supposedly supports them. How come this international power with its extraordinary military might is unable to eliminate Daesh? The exception is the Russian military force in Syria; the role it plays in support of the Syrian military battling Daesh makes it obvious the Russians are going against the [international] tide. The past couple of weeks have carried news of an imminent salvation from Daesh in Syria; this generated much relief, despite a few worries that simply cannot be brushed off.
On 27 May, the media carried news of Russian Aerospace Forces destroying a Daesh convoy that was on its way from Raqqa to Palmyra. The Russian air force blew up a Daesh convoy of 39 pick-up trucks armed with large-calibre machine-guns, and some 120 terrorists were killed. The strike came after the Russian military command in Syria received confirmed reports that the Kurdish leadership had agreed to provide safe passage through the areas under its controls to allow Daesh forces to safely leave Raqqa, which is now controlled by the Syrian army, and flee to Palmyra. The serious question that begs an answer is: how could the Kurds, who have so long and so fiercely suffered at the hands of Daesh, provide safe passage for Daesh, except if by order of the Western coalition? This could explain the Russian air strike against the Daesh convoy. The discord between Russia and the western coalition is no secret; Russia is adamant about confronting Daesh, whereas the western coalition appears happy to merely look on the conflict in the region.
On 31 May, Russian forces fired missiles from a frigate and a submarine near the Syrian coast, targeting Daesh’s fighters and heavy equipment that had fled Raqqa. The Russian Ministry of Defence declared that it notified the American, Turkish and Israeli forces of the strike. Once again, Russian forces hit Daesh and beat it, while the US and its allies looked on.
With the first day of this month, the Russian Ministry of Defence reported that Russian air forces was closely monitoring and throttling all attempts by Daesh to flee Raqqa to Homs and Hamah. The strikes resulted in the destruction of 36 vehicles, 17 trucks, and eight fuel tanks, as well as the killing of 80 armed Daesh men. What really stands out is the Ministry of Defence’s declaration that Daesh men fled Raqqa through a spot at the Euphrates River besieged by the Syrian Democratic Forces which are supported by the western coalition as well as the US, French and British special forces. Can there be a more flagrant predicament? Russian forces pursuing Daesh men fleeing a zone besieged by ‘very special’ Syrian, American, French and British forces?
Those who share my apprehensions regarding the unduly extended time since the battle against Daesh allegedly started, but during which Daesh was never eliminated and instead grew in savagery and terror, and those who wonder about the real objectives and intentions behind the emergence and mammoth growth of this terrorist group may read my editorial dated 7 February 2017 and titled “Are we being fooled?” []. It discusses the hidden role played by the US and its allies regarding Daesh. This time round I found no better title to use; are we still being fooled?

Watani International
11 June 2017

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