Duplicity at the core of US policy on IS

Duplicity at the core of US policy on IS
3 min read
30 Mar, 2015
Comment: The US supported Kurds with weapons, training and air cover in their fight against the Islamic State group. So what about the FSA, asks Michel Kilo.
Favouritism is hurting the war against the Islamic State group [AFP]

Back home, they use the expression "make chalk of one and cheese of the other" to demote favoritism and discriminatory treatment among human beings. The US adopts this policy in the fight against the Islamic State group.

It commends Peshmerga forces for their efforts in the war against the IS, while it condemns the Free Syrian Army (FSA) that made unmatched accomplishments in fighting terrorism.

Since mid-2014, the FSA has expelled IS forces from nearly 80 percent of the territories they controlled between Raqqa and the Syrian coast without any support.

Yet, since day one, Washington included the Kurds in the international alliance against the IS as ground forces, providing them with weapons and the necessary expertise for the battleground, as well as declaring them an ally that cannot be defeated.

The US air force launched intensive attacks on IS sites in the outskirts of Erbil, while US army generals made plans for Kurdish forces after re-assembling and restructuring their dispersed units.

US generals also supervised the Kurdish forces' battles, all of which took place under US air cover.

One can say that the US air force contributed the most to the fight against the IS by making way for the Kurdish forces and cleansing IS-controlled territories, allowing the Kurds to win their battles with the minimum amount of fighting.

On the other hand, the US searched for moderate Syrians to train them, only to find very few of them in camps.

     The US does not consider the FSA an ally worthy of air or ground support.

The US does not consider the FSA an ally worthy of air or ground support, and at the same time, it cannot stop providing Kuds with supplies and reinforcements. This even though the FSA was the first to fight months-long successful battles against IS, which had targeted it for more than a year, killing thousands of its leaders, fighters and loyalists.

IS has also fought off the FSA from most liberated areas in northern and central Syria, forcing it into an unequal war on two fronts: IS and the Syrian regime.

In addition, IS adopted fighting methods that led to the infiltration of the FSA, targeting its fighters and seizing its weapons through intimidation, bribery, ideological corruption or beheadings.

During this period, which lasted nearly a year and a half, the US did not notice the battle between the FSA and IS, and it did not want to support the moderates fighting this battle.

It refrained from offering air support to prevent the regime from targeting them, and it did not provide them with weapons as it did in Kobane, most of which was controlled by IS. Even worse, the US started to consider extremism part of the revolution, accusing the revolutionaries of failing to prevent it and of siding with it.

Eventually, the White House argued it feared US weapons would fall in the hands of terrorists.

Thus, the US used this excuse to stop supporting the "moderates" instead of increasing their support to enable them to continue their fight against terrorism as a common enemy.

Chalk and cheese is the policy, with practices and outcomes that raise serious doubts and fears.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the opinions of al-Araby al-Jadeed, its editorial board or staff.

This is an edited translation of the original Arabic.