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Questions about the new war on terrorism

The Levant Exclusive – By Dr. Amer Al Sabaileh

The US propaganda machine whirred back to life this week with the
declaration of the launch of airstrikes against ISIS in Syria. The US
marketing campaign is reminiscent of the 1960s rock band reunion
tours, as they ‘put the band back together’ with their old allies in
the region.

Most of the American media portrayed the launch as a normalization of
relations with America’s Sunni allies, after a period of confusion
with the Obama administration. The parallel narrative was the
portrayal of the role of Arab countries leading strikes against
another Arab country, complete with feel good stories about royal
princes piloting jets and even a female fighter pilot from the UAE.
The machine really has gone into overdrive.

The US raids in Syria also create a political advantage, as Russia and
Iran are no longer active players, meaning that Syrian targets are
open and effectively undefended against the US Air Force. Moreover,
many military experts believe that the bombing of Daesh in the Syrian
city of Raqqa occurred at least one week before this week’s
declaration, suggesting the marketing campaign is designed to
communicate a political message.

It is also important to distinguish between the NATO Alliance and the
recent coalition that have launched air strikes in Syria. While NATO
has agreed to conduct missions in Iraq, many of its members such as
UK, Germany and France have expressed strong concerns regarding the
American strategy in Syria. This is where the new coalition of Sunni
Arab states comes in to play.

The American narrative that ‘the band is back together’ with the
traditional Sunni axis is not particularly accurate. The Obama
administration is trying to gloss over past mistakes with its regional
allies by creating the impression that old friends are back on the
same page. In fact, ISIS is an enemy to everyone from old allies to
Iran, Russia, Syria and even Hezbollah. So talking about a new
American Sunni alliance to fight ISIS is not accurate as some in this
new alliance are also seeking political change in Syria and many
harbor deep concern about the lack of a clear US strategy for the
successive phases of the conflict.

At this stage, the strategy appears limited to creating no fly zones
across the country, bolstering the Free Syrian Army and the eventual
creation of a new Syrian Government. All of which is eerily similar to
the initial strategies applied when the Syrian crisis arose several
years ago.

The US strategy here could lead to chaos simply because it relies on
traditional violent confrontation. In fact, many believe that the
Houthis, who lead the Shia insurgency in Yemen have taken Sanaa as a
result of the increasing violent confrontation in the region. If that
is the case, then we are likely to see more and more surprising
violent confrontations in the region.

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