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[The link in the first paragraph below may not show dlm's comment, to which this is a response, but merely open an On The Media article. If so, click the "show comments" button/link on the OTM page opened by the following link.]

@dlm from United States: 'While Obama focuses on semantics Islamic terrorists continue to increase the amount of territory they control.'

"dlm" repeats the US corporate-funded media's line: Da'ish(1) "is taking over" eastern Syria and western Iraq. But this is nonsense, and we know it to be nonsense, because we've seen this movie before:

Cast your mind back to the mindless media of 2005: OMG, "Al Qaeda in Iraq" is taking over al-Anbar! Yet even then, thoughtful people noted that AQI's membership numbered, at best, a few thousand. How could a group that small "control" tens of thousands of square miles of territory, and keep US troops in their bases? The answer was, they couldn't. The group that had actually risen up against the US, its lackeys, and the Shiite government in Baghdad were the traditional occupants of western Iraq (and eastern Syria--hold that thought), widely referred to as "Sunni tribesmen" or "Dulaimi" (the name of one of the largest groups in the area). They had prospered under Saddam, but had been beaten down by the US occupation and its successor Shiite-dominated governments, and were now rising up against their oppressors. So let's be plain:

  1. al-Qaeda never controlled any territory in Iraq: they merely formed a nucleus around which Sunni militants gathered.
  2. Sunni militance in the bedouin/desert area of western Iraq (and eastern Syria--hold that thought) was not created by al-Qaeda, but by the US and the Shiite factions it came to support.

Sooo ... how do we know this? Because the US bought them off! With a "surge of checks" in 2005-6 (the later "troop surge" was merely domestic political cover--"buying terrorists" has lousy "optics" :-), the Bush administration created the "Sunni Awakening," converting (as if by magic :-) tens of thousands of "fanatical jihadists" into "Sons of Iraq". In less than a year, the remnants of AQI were swept out--proving that "Islamic terrorists" never controlled anything, but merely served to mobilize indigenous discontent.

But now, ten years later, the USCFM is feeding us the same old same old: be terrified! "ISIL," or "ISIS," or "IS" is taking over al-Anbar, and Mosul, and eastern Syria! And again, it's nonsense: actual Da'ish membership is on the order of a few tens of thousands, of which many are foreigners without significant military expertise. The vast majority of "boots on the ground" in the area of conflict are (you guessed :-) local Sunnis, who have now not only ten years more of accumulated grievances, but now

  1. have grievances against both the anti-Sunni Baghdad regime and the anti-Sunni Damascus regime.
  2. are particularly attracted by Da'ish's call to undo the Sykes-Picot border(2) that artifically and colonially separates the desert Sunnis of eastern Syria from their brethren in western (and northern) Iraq.

So please: enough with the "faith-based" anti-terrorist rhetoric. We need to deal with the very real concerns of a few million people who were divided by a colonial border into two polities that they find oppressive. We can either deal with those grievances honestly and directly, or shovel billions of dollars into the ever-expanding pockets of the US 1% (and their USCFM mouthpieces) for another useless--probably actually damaging--war.


(1) How much USCFM blather could have been avoided if we had just used the Arabic acronym for the organization, instead of battling over how to translate "al-Sham"?

(2) See also the map in

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