Now that ISIS has been labeled an “imminent threat” the Obama Administration is moving to expand its bombing campaign against the group from Iraq into Syria. Pentagon officials said Monday evening that President Obama approved the use of manned and unmanned reconnaissance flights over Syria last weekend. The recon flights will be used to gather intelligence to create target lists for strikes in Syria.
Though the resulting airstrikes will be of great benefit to the Assad government, it appears the Assad Administration was not consulted on the recon flights nor will be consulted on the bombing. This led Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem to demand that any campaign against ISIS in Syria “should be coordinated with the Syrian government.” Moallem said the Syrian government was open to working with the Obama Administration on hitting ISIS forces in Syria.
Of course working openly with the Assad government could prove to be problematic from a political perspective. President Obama not so long ago attempted unsuccessfully to get the US Congress to approve airstrikes against Assad and company. One of President Assad’s arguments made publicly was that if Obama bombed him and his government he would be strengthening Islamic radicals that hate America. The charge was dismissed at the time by the Obama Administration.
The flights are a significant step toward direct American military action in Syria, an intervention that could alter the battlefield in the nation’s three-year civil war. Administration officials said the United States did not intend to notify the Assad government of the planned flights. Mr. Obama, who has repeatedly called for the ouster of Mr. Assad, is loath to be seen as aiding the Syrian government, even inadvertently.
As a result the Pentagon is drafting military options that would strike the militant Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, near the largely erased border between those two nations, as opposed to more deeply inside Syria. The administration is also moving to bolster American support for the moderate Syrian rebels who view Mr. Assad as their main foe.
Bolster what? Is this a joke? President Obama himself said that hoping the moderate Syrian rebels will make a difference has “always been a fantasy.” And given that the moderates are fighting ISIS’ enemy would not supporting them be extremely counterproductive right now? If ISIS is an “imminent threat” to the United States the last thing you would want to do is weaken their enemies.
The more President Obama’s strategy in the Middle East is analyzed the more clear it is that there is no real strategy – just a series of half-witted interventions based on imperial arrogance. Activists helped pause the imperial war machine by opposing Obama’s plans for airstrikes on the Assad “regime” and were told they were being childish, naive, and isolationist – now, just a few months later, the war machine is set to help Assad by bombing his enemies. Does that sound like a coherent policy to you?