More than three months since our article on the taking of Hajin, which we compared to Steeple Bumpstead, (here) the last tiny ISIS pocket has finally been overrun by the Kurds (aka Syrian Democratic Forces) and USA. The end of ISIS has been a farce for several reasons:
1. The last ISIS pocket was only twenty miles by two miles, running along the Eastern bank of the River Euphrates. The land here is almost entirely flat, with little in the way of natural defensive positions. The Syrian Army and the Russians have overrun many much larger pockets in much less time. Their strategy almost always involved cutting the pockets into smaller segments before finally clearing them. This was an obvious strategy for the Euphrates pocket, as several advances of only two miles would have cut it into miniscule pieces, which could have been cleared relatively easily. However, the Kurds/USA chose to advance from the North (where Hajin is) on a narrow two-mile front. This allowed ISIS to concentrate all their resources on that front, and to pull back with all their weapons and the local civilians. Hence the problem of a massive concentration of well-armed ISIS fighters plus civilian shields in the South of the pocket at the end of the advance.
2. Even before the advance started in December, the Euphrates pocket had been left unmolested for months.
3. The attack on ISIS followed Trump’s announcement that he was pulling all American troops out of Syria. There was uproar in Washington, so that changed to just a few being left; then that changed again to more being left. (See earlier article here.)
4. The Americans constantly claim credit for the defeat of ISIS, and the media goes along with the claim. The truth is that the Syrian Army and the Russians have done most of the work, clearing all of the Syrian territory West of the Euphrates. If the US had allowed them to cross the River, this particular pocket would have been cleared months ago.
The present situation and the lead-up to it confirms the truth of the US/UK/Coalition involvement in Syria. The purpose was always “Regime Change”, which is little more than a euphemism for conquest, or balkanisation (as with Libya.) ISIS was a very useful tool in the attempt to topple Assad. When the Syrian Army, with Russian assistance, was able to cut ISIS off from its main supply line from NATO/Muslim Brotherhood Turkey, it was Game Over for ISIS. Their main use then was as an excuse for the presence of US troops. This is why their defeat was delayed for so long. But taking so long to defeat such a tiny pocket meant that embarrassment was turning to ignominy. ISIS had to finally go, and the US has had to admit that it is not in Syria to fight them. The continued illegal American occupation of At Tanf, blocking a crucial Syrian economic and military supply route, shows their purpose clearly. And Trump’s recent endorsement of the illegal Israeli occupation of the Golan Heights gives a further clue to the motivation.
The media quibble about whether ISIS is defeated or not. But March 23rd is a clear milestone. ISIS once controlled an area across Syria and Iraq about half as large as Syria itself. It was, de facto, a State. Any nation or group intent on fighting it certainly didn’t need to look for it. But now finding ISIS is the first requirement. They are now clearly a movement, not a State.
Will ISIS ever be fully defeated? The answer will be “No” so long as Western Nations continue their interference in the Middle East. ISIS and the belief system that supports it would never have existed but for the invasion of Iraq. As long as we maintain the hypocrisy that Syrian Army boots on UK soil would be an outrage, but British Army boots on Syrian or other foreign soil are acceptable, even desirable, the problems will continue. (The SAS have been, and probably still are, in Syria.)
If Jesus were here today he would have some hard words for ISIS, along with His message of forgiveness. But His words would not be a great deal softer for those who have bombed them, supplied them, gone along with them, lied about them, or even just been unconcerned about the whole situation. There is collective responsibility here. It is, of course, very difficult today for the individual to get his voice heard. But the churches, especially together, do not have that problem. Their silence, even allowing for the odd mealy-mouthed recitation, is deafening. And the media are equally guilty.