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The Death and Rebirth of Islamic State

The US has no more use for "Islamic State" in Syria, but there's trouble in the Philippines to sort out...

This post first appeared on Russia Insider

In this era of “perception management” by Western government agencies and pervasive misinformation from their media machines, last week was a stand out. While literally dozens of independent commentators discussed the dangers of imminent war following the US shooting down of a Syrian jet – identified as an “act of war” by Syrian and Russian authorities – Western mainstream media passed it off and then moved on.

Moved on, or back - to the more important question of Russian hacking of the US election! In Australia, where commentators are pathologically anti-Russian, the latest updates on the supposed hacking scandal took precedence over any discussion of the US coalition attack on Syrian government forces, despite Australia’s close involvement in that coalition. Even as our defence minister announced Australia would “temporarily withdraw” from involvement in Syria, following Russia’s immediate cancellation of the deconfliction agreement, there was little interest shown in this extraordinary development – effectively the declaration of No-Fly-Zones by both the US and Russia.

There was even less interest from the commentariat when Australia quite inexplicably resumed operations with the US coalition in Syria only days later, and complete silence on Russia’s dramatic military response to further US actions – shooting down a $240 million “Global Hawk” surveillance drone on its way to Raqqa.

When you consider how many thousand media hours have been spent talking of no-fly-zones, and of the possible stationing of Russian S-300 missile defence systems in Syria, you might think it strange that no-one takes an interest in a “story” featuring both! Whether this silence was a consequence of direct media management by authorities, or just a symptom of media “double-think” is hard to say.

What has been evident right across Western media recently however is the development of a new narrative – “the end of Islamic State” – accompanied by talk of “winning the peace”. This narrative is both delusionary and disingenuous – though that’s hardly a strong enough word to describe the evident planning for ongoing illegal military occupation of Syria by the US and its allies. Not only does it envisage some fantasy state existing outside any international convention or UN resolution, occupying the territory of the “former” caliphate, but the picture excludes all the parties who have legitimate interests in Syria including Syria’s own government.

Coincidentally indeed, ideas on “post-IS Syria” had little currency until recently as IS forces showed little sign of defeat, before the sudden and unpredicted blowing up of Mosul’s grand mosque and ancient minaret. This desperate act of sabotage was quite oddly portrayed not so much as a disaster for Iraq’s cultural heritage, but as a welcome signal that the Islamic State was also crumbling in ruins. This may actually have had some truth to it as Russia claimed to have likely killed IS’ leader Baghdadi a couple of weeks earlier in a successful “decapitation” operation in Raqqa, as well as being kept busy destroying convoys of IS fighters driven out of Raqqa by US coalition forces.

While the ambiguous relationship the US has with Islamic State might be confusing to some in the West – who ask for instance why the US does not just kill these terrorists it claims threaten the whole world – US actions of the last few weeks have revealed the raw truth of this marriage-made-in-hell. The Syrian jet they shot down near Raqqa was purportedly targeting IS forces, though these may have been indistinguishable from militants fighting with US support – the so-called “Syrian Democratic Forces”. Following on weeks of suspect behaviour by the US coalition, where Islamic State forces were apparently allowed to escape from Raqqa and move down the Euphrates towards Deir al Zour and Palmyra, the shoot-down was the last straw; Russia declared openly that the US was supporting terrorists in Syria, including Al Qaeda and Islamic State.

This is where we have a ‘radical disconnect’. In the world outside the Western cultural and media echo-chamber it is not news that terrorist groups across the Muslim world are being supported by Western powers, along with their Gulf state allies, Israel and Turkey. It is a matter of policy dating back many years, as integral to the cynical and unscrupulous pursuit of their “Imperial” agenda.

Yet for those inside this prison of misinformation, where “national security” and the threat of terrorism is made to dominate our view of the war zones, the idea that our own governments are actually creating and supporting the terrorist armies over there is simply inconceivable. Our only response to those who make this claim is to deny and discredit, if we cannot ignore them – a psychological trick made much easier when “they” are the Russians, and their ex-KGB President.

But back to Australia, because it seems as though the “end of Islamic State” heralded by their quasi-defeat in Mosul and Raqqa is nothing more than the West’s chosen narrative; an elaborate deception concealing the redeployment of its favourite Trojan Horse to the next theatre – the Philippines.

The US plan has been well described by William Engdahl, amongst others, but the way that Australia is being enlisted to this new campaign adds weight to their analysis as well as illustrating the “perception management” accompanying it. Australians must be persuaded to take an active part in actions targeting China which are not in their interest and not in their country; what better way than to emphasise the dangers of Islamic State terrorism spreading here from Muslim states to our north?

Australia hasn’t suffered from any significant terrorist attacks at home, but still smarts from a terrorist bomb attack on Australian’s favourite holiday island in Indonesia in 2002 that killed scores of Australians. The supposed mastermind of that attack, known as “Hambali” was captured by the CIA in 2003, and later incarcerated without charge in Guantanamo. Till last Friday!

News that Hambali was to be charged and tried in a US military court coincided with a visit to Australia by none other than David Petraeus, also a mastermind of many attacks, including all those in Syria that resulted from the CIA’s terrorist rat-line from Libya. Petraeus, who was feted at a Liberal party meeting in Canberra, had come to urge Australia to join in the fight against terrorism in China’s backyard, and to assure us that the US was no different under Trump; we are the essential partner in America’s latest war-zone.

As our media then performed to cue, interviewing the still-grieving relatives of Hambali’s victims, dormant fears and suspicions of Islamist extremism were rekindled in a new form in our region under the black flag of Islamic State, and under the watchful “five eyes” partnership with the US... 

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