Sunday, June 29, 2014

ISIS, Jordan, Israel and Saving One of the Few Allies We Have Left

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One of the major failures that historians will write about the Obama years is the way we treated and lost many long-standing allies. Be it the shameless way he appeased Russia by pulling defensive missiles from Poland, the embarrassing way he treated Britain or the way he smacked Israel at every opportunity, this will be at the top of major foreign policy blunders. 

We now have the opportunity to help another ally when they need it most and my guess is that he will screw them over as well.
Israel and the US may be prepared to aid Jordan as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria eyes the Jewish state’s eastern neighbor, The Daily Beast on Saturday quoted US officials as saying. 
US officials speaking on condition of anonymity have speculated that if ISIS were to pursue a full-on assault on Jordan, Amman might not be able to repel the Islamists.
Correction; Jordan will not be able to repel the invading horde of ISIS terrorist's.  They've taken advantage of two teetering regimes in Iraq and Syria and have increased their numbers and effectiveness in both places. They've become a trained army and have sparked a revolution gaining adherents and momentum while the US sits back and allows them to expand unchecked. They've already managed to win and hold a huge swath of land from Aleppo to the northwest to the outskirts of Baghdad on the southeast:

The Jordanian's have been our most trusted ally in the region where we have few and King Hussein and then his son King Abdullah have expended serious political capital in recognizing Israel at the behest of the US while stoking enmity throughout the rest of the Arab world. As with most Arab governments, they seem a house of cards that can be easier undermined. Abdullah has bravely stood with the US and done our bidding when to do the opposite would have helped him much more at home.

ISIS sees the opportunity to expand their gains and the new caliphate by enlisting the aid of the disgruntled Jordanian youth while also provoking Israel into a regional war they would have a hard time winning. If even a small part of the kingdom falls, the Egyptians and Libyan Islamist's would quickly begin putting pressure on Israel and they will find themselves with pressure coming from the north, east and south. The fact that ISIS is Sunni means that they will gain quite a bit of help from many in Wahhabist Saudi Arabia whose leadership scared to death of the Shiite regime in Iraq but even more afraid of instability at home.

Meanwhile, President Obama has pledged that he will "aid" Jordan but doesn't quite spell out what that aid will mean. Is it weapons? Training? Boots on the ground? Perhaps we send over "advisors"?

And what of the Israeli's? How much assistance can they possibly give? The second they send any the Islamist's will score a major propaganda coup. Imagine the anger of disaffected Jordanian and Arab youth when they read communique after communique saying that the Abdullah monarchy needs to get assistance from the hated state of Israel. That will be the biggest recruiting assistance they could ever hope to have.

The only way to stop ISIS is to help Jordan seal their borders. Iraq is lost thanks to diplomatic bumbling by Obama and he is already working on arming those in Syria who wish us harm. If Jordan goes down, we will be facing not only death and destruction on a biblical scale but a middle east that is so transformed as to be unrecognizable from what it was a decade ago.

My guess is that we will offer them arms and training but not even consider shoring up their defenses with men. Obama does not have the stomach to engage in another war and will be content to leave this mess to his successor. Plus he can give a big "screw you" to Israeli PM Netanyahu who has dared on numerous occasions to call out Obama for his fecklessness. Meanwhile, millions of citizens of an ally we've needed throughout the years will suffer and the prestige and trustworthiness of the US will take another major hit.

Yes, many will blame Bush and Cheney but the US had a chance to stop this onslaught when it started in Syria but chose the wrong side. Obama believed that just by the sheer will of his personality that insurgents would overthrow the regime of Bashar Assad and then become friends of the US. The fact that the exact opposite happened in Egypt and Libya didn't teach him a lesson he would have been smart to recognize.

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