The US’ Unauthorised Air Strikes in Syria: Against or Favouring Wahhabism and the Islamic State?

Peter Custers

Since the night of September 22/23, US fighter planes have been carrying out strikes with missiles and drones against targets in and around Raqqah, the city in the Northern part of Syria where are located the headquarters of ISIS’ self-proclaimed ‘Islamic state’. Four of the US’s Middle Eastern allies are known to be taking part in these aerial strikes. They signify not just an extension in the warfare the US had previously launched against ISIS positions in Northern Iraq, but herald a decisive break with President Obama’s past efforts to wind down and bring to an end the US’s involvement in Middle Eastern wars. Once again, as when the US had started its aggression for the overthrow of the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussain (2003), — the current air strikes are clearly illegitimate. 

They have neither been authorized by the Syrian government, nor by the UN’s Security Council. Although the start of the bombardments inside Syria was preceded by efforts to craft a broad international coalition — at meetings held in Great Britain (NATO), in France and in Saudi Arabia — some of the US’s European allies have expressly stated that the bombardments of Syrian targets lack a legal basis.

Meanwhile, leading spokespersons of the US’s Military Industrial Complex, such as army chief Dempsey and Defense Secretary Hagel, have speculated on an another imperial ground war, aimed at dislodging ISIS from Syria and Iraq.

To bring out the fact that the US’s war on ISIS is controversial from the beginning, it is useful to look at the nature of Middle Eastern governments that have committed support to the US.

Towards recruiting participants for its war plans, gaining logistical support and financial backing, the US in the first part of September held a meeting in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, where 10 countries took part. In an editorial published in the US’s most respectable daily on the very day the air strikes over Syria started, the coalition resulting from this Saudi meeting was described as ‘the unlikeliest of coalitions!’ This in view of the huge funding and other backing ISIS has been receiving from countries that joined the same Saudi meeting.

Yet only a few months back one had a hard time tracing reliable data in Western media or at internet on the history of ISIS’ funding. Some researchers of US think tanks such as the Brookings Institution were quoted as stating that ISIS has been mobilizing support from Gulf states for years.

Only recently has the world’s mainstream press woken up to the fact that Wahhabi clerics and other backers have been voicing pro-ISIS propaganda on t.v. channels in Qatar, and that the Saudi and Kuwaiti government have not hindered, but allowed ISIS-sympathizers to publicly canvass for donors. Worse — Turkey, Syria’s neighbor, has been facilitating oil exports from areas ISIS controls. Indeed, one wonders for how long Western intelligence agents active in the Middle East have been asleep.

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