The Mysteries of ISIL and the ‘American Hand’ (L’Orient Le Jour, Lebanon)
Ironically, the widely held belief that America is manipulating events in the Middle East appears to be making the region’s political leaders complacent about the threat posed by ISIS [aka/ISIL]. For Lebanon’s L’Orient Le Jour, columnist Scarlett Haddad writes that political authorities in Lebanon, Jordan, and other countries, are so certain that ISIL is a tool of the United States and that it will ‘leave the scene once its mission is accomplished,’ that they are failing to take proper precautions to safeguard their own security from the group.
For the L’Orient Le Jour, Scarlett Haddad writes in part:
The Iraq imbroglio continues to preoccupy the world’s foreign ministries, who are anxious to understand the motivations if the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant [ISIL] for proclaiming a caliphate under the leadership of Caliph Ibrahim (Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi). Does this group have its own agenda, or is it being manipulated by international or regional forces? And where will it end?
If it’s true that certain parties in Saudi Arabia, in order to put Iran in difficulty and cut the territorial connection between Tehran, Damascus and South-Lebanon, thought they could profit from ISIL’s breakthrough in Iraq, it is also true that ISIL’s sudden proclamation of the Islamic Caliphate took Saudi rulers by surprise. Even so, in the founding speech of this caliphate, Caliph Ibrahim’s spokesman never mentioned “the kingdoms” (nor, moreover, Israel) as being part of the Islamic Caliphate. He only spoke of the emirates of the gulf, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon, and of course Iraq. Some analysts have sought to question the authenticity of this oral proclamation, but specialists in extremist Islamist movements are certain: the Islamic Caliphate is well and truly born, and in principle, all Muslims should rally around it. With funds and weapons seized in Iraq, this new state is quite viable, and only requires access to the sea via Jordan.
Despite all that, the political forces in Lebanon and elsewhere continue to question the threat to the entire region posed by ISIL. These forces are convinced that ISIL is a “giant with feet of clay” that for the moment has a role to play, but which will leave the scene once its ‘mission’ is accomplished.
Certain items appear to support this thesis, notably the fact that the ISIL fighters who took the town of Samarra carefully avoided attacking the shrines of Shiite imams there, knowing that such an attack would necessarily result in a violent response from Iran. At the same time, they began to issue multiple provocations, as if they wanted to push Iran into making more concessions in Iraq, including on the issue of [Prime Minister] Nouri al-Maliki. For advocates of this thesis, the situation remains well under control, at least as far as the Americans are concerned, who, after having promised a strong reaction to ISIL, continue to reduce their assistance to the Iraqi regime, which they themselves established.
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