Contributed by ‘Terry’

Radio Free Redoubt Listener and Partisan

Tomorrow evening the President of the United States is scheduled to announce the official United States strategy for countering the ISIS threat. This is a richly ironic turn of events considering that it has been the United States foreign policy for well over one year to promote ISIS and its predecessors, under the guise of supporting the “rebels” in Syria. This, too, follows on the heels of our similarly disastrous policy failures in Libya and Egypt. Just as the U.S. support for the mujahideen in Afghanistan gave rise to Al-Qaeda, the U.S. involvement in Syria and neglect for the Sunnis in Iraq has given rise to ISIS.

At this juncture, the best U.S. strategy would be to do less than nothing – namely, withdraw the growing program of U.S. support to the terrorist factions operating in Syria, allow the freely elected Syrian state to form its new government and to conduct its counterterrorist activities unhampered by any further meddling. This will simultaneously reduce escalating U.S. tensions with Russia and Iran and send a very clear message to ISIS that, come what may, they’re not going to be handed the propaganda victory of fighting “foreign devils”, but, rather, their own brethren.

Such a move would greatly relieve the level of human suffering in Syria and allow the U.S. to direct its resources towards pressing domestic needs. Most important of all however, it would allow the most latitude for the major powers in the region to settle their own differences. Western meddling in Middle Eastern affairs has proven to be nothing less than an unmitigated disaster for all concerned and it’s beyond time to reverse this approach. We in the West need to allow those most knowledgeable in the region, those who have the most at stake, to find common ground amongst themselves – no Western “solution” imposed from the outside has ever succeeded over the long term, nor will it, no matter how well crafted, generously funded or ardently pursued.

Towards this end, over the past few months the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been actively promoting a public policy of denouncing ISIS as part of its counterterrorism program. On September 11th, the day following the planned speech by the U.S. President, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will host an international counterterrorism conference with planned attendance by the six GCC member states (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, UAE, and Saudi Arabia) along with Egypt, Jordan, Turkey and, yes, the United States. Over that same time, Saudi Arabia has donated $1B to the Lebanese to counter Sunni terrorist activities; it has donated $500M in humanitarian aid to Iraq, and $100M to the UN Counter Terrorism Centre – all in the name of countering terrorism. Over that same period, there have been several major arrests of terrorists and clerics supporting extremism within the Kingdom.

Just as the Cold War between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. was fought in large measure by proxy states (U.S. involvement in Vietnam and U.S.S.R. involvement in Afghanistan comes immediately to mind), the larger struggle in the Middle East is between Iran and Saudi Arabia, representing Shi’ite and Sunni factions, respectively. I worked for 18 months in the Middle East in 1978 and the first half of 1979, a time in which the United States had friendly relations with both nations, albeit with markedly different leadership in the case of Iran. ISIS represents a Sunni reaction to the growing Shi’ite power in Iraq, a turn of events that is in no small measure due to U.S. actions in the region. Syria is allied with Russia and Iran whereas the Arab states, in general, struggle to maintain friendly relations with the United States, due largely to its support for Israel.

It is the regional intelligence and security services that are best positioned to discover and thwart extremists and other threats within their own societies. Let’s do what’s best for all involved by sending the very clear message that we in the U.S. have had our fill of meddling in Middle Eastern affairs, Israel included, and allow the regional states the maneuver space necessary to succeed.