The recently declassified U.S. intelligence report proves ISIS has become a very powerful tool in the potent hands of the United States. The document is backed by the former head of the U.S. Defence Intelligence Agency, who claims Washington ‘wilfully’ allowed the rise and expansion of Islamic State.
Retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, ex-intelligence chief, told Al Jazeera’s Mehdi Hasan that the U.S. government probably did not want to listen to its agency on purpose and opined that it was a “wilful decision.” The interview confirms previous suspicions that Washington was actually monitoring jihadist groups emerging as opposition in Syria.
The DIA report said “the Salafist, the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaeda in Iraq are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria.” The document declassified via the Freedom of Information Act added that these formations are being supported by “the West, Gulf countries and Turkey” and predicted the rise of “a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in eastern Syria.” It claimed the goal was to “isolate the Syrian regime” and warned of “dire consequences” of such a scenario, because it would allow al-Qaeda to unify the jihadist Sunni forces in Syria, Iraq and the rest of the Sunnis in the Arab world against all other Muslim minorities they consider rebels.
The declassified report predicted that the Islamic State of Iraq “could also declare an Islamic State through its union with other terrorist organisations in Iraq and Syria.” The former head of DIA expressed full trust in the report, emphasizing he “paid very close attention” to the document and adding “the intelligence was very clear.”
According to Al Jazeera, Lieutenant General Flynn became “the highest ranking intelligence official to go on record” saying that the United States along with some of its allies such as the Gulf Arab states and Turkey, were sponsoring rebels controlled by al-Qaeda in Syria not only with political support but also with weapons in an attempt to oust President Bashar Assad. The retired general claimed he did not try to stop the U.S. coordinating arms transfers to ISIS because it was not his job.
RT’s Gayane Chichakyan asked John Kirby, U.S. State Department spokesperson, to comment on the report and the former head of DIA’s assessment of it. Kirby claimed the rise of ISIL inside Syria was “helped by Assad’s regime lack of legitimacy” to efficiently control not only its people but also its territory. Meanwhile Said Arikat, Washington Bureau Chief for Al-Quds told the news channel the U.S.’ approach to Syria further destabilizes the situation and claimed that if the United States’ goal really was to defeat ISIS, it should either create or facilitate conditions “through which you can have a political resolution.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in early August in an interview with Russian state TV channel Rossiya 1 that the United States and its allies should cooperate with Assad in fighting ISIS. Instead they “persistently refuse to recognize Assad as a partner, which is rather strange.” Lavrov revealed that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s initiative was “two-trekked,” proposing a coalition of people who fight against ISIS on the ground and the support of a “political process” to prevent the incitement of civil war in Syria.
Lavrov is not the only person who believes the U.S.’ attitude towards ISIS is flawed. A few months ago Weekly Standard’s Charles Krauthammer said on The Kelly File that President Obama is “pretending” to be trying to combat ISIS. He claimed the president’s strategy is “an abject failure” and that he is “wilfully and actively and knowingly not doing anything.”
Despite the growing number of voices that claim the United States “wilfully” allowed the rise of Islamic State, there are also sources which describe the declassified report as “the ISIS conspiracy that ate the Web.” The Daily Beast emphasized that the report, which is not even finished, is “not exactly an endorsement of the coming caliphate” and that the person who wrote it “deserves credit” for the precision.
Regardless of the diversified opinions regarding the U.S.’ implication in the fight against ISIS, one thing is certain: Islamic State is “al-Qaeda on steroids,” as Krauthammer said, and the first step towards its defeat is to acknowledge Assad can be an asset, not a problem.