The Caliph at the Gates of Vienna
By Pepe Escobar
October 30, 2015 "Information
Clearing House" - "Asia
- - History has a jolly habit of repeating itself as
surrealist farce. Is it 1683 all over again, with the Ottoman Empire
laying siege to Vienna just to be defeated by the “infidels” at the
No; it’s 2015 and a Caliph simulacrum – Ibrahim, a.k.a. Abu Bakr
al-Baghdadi — has prompted a gaggle of world powers, lesser powers
and assorted minions to converge to Vienna to discuss how to defeat
Westphalians, we got a problem. None of
this makes any sense if Iran is not at the table discussing a
solution for the Syrian tragedy. Moscow knew it from the start.
Washington — reluctantly — had to admit the obvious. But the problem
was never Iran. The problem is the ideological matrix of goons who
metastasize into Caliphs: Saudi Arabia.
Back — inevitably — to surrealism. Saudi Foreign
Minister Adel al-Jubeir stated, “The view of our partners … was that
we should test the intentions of the Iranians and the Russians in
arriving at a political solution in Syria, which we all prefer.”
Translation: “Our partners” means “His Masters’
Voice,” Washington; and the beheading-addicted oil hacienda does not
“prefer” a political solution; they want regime change and a House
of Saud satrapy.
Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, the EU, France and even
Qatar — whose mini-emir wanted to launch his own military campaign
for regime change before someone told him to shut up — are keeping
company to Iran in Vienna, alongside the US, Russia, Turkey and the
House of Saud.
Talk about parallel lives. One thing is a polite
altercation inside a gilded Vienna palace. The shifting military
sands across a Sykes-Picot-in-shambles “Syraq” tell a very different
Beware the new Global Jihad
The ideal solution is tempting; Russia dispatches
the Spetsnaz and some extra commandos; beheads the ISIS/ISIL/Daesh
goons from a C4i point of view; surrounds them; and wipes them out.
Yet it won’t happen, as long as Sultan Erdogan in
Turkey, petrodollar GCC minions and the CIA persist to “support”
and/or weaponize assorted Salafi-jihadi goons, “moderate” or
The fake “Caliphate” will be a very tough nut to
crack because they don’t – and won’t – care about their own mounting
casualties. The “4+1” alliance – Russia, Syria, Iran, Iraq plus
Hezbollah – already knows it, and has already experienced trouble in
Hezbollah took casualties. So did Iran’s Quds
Force – as in reliable mid-level commanders. Iran has around 1,500
fighters on the ground – many of them Afghans – on the “4+1” side.
On the opposite side we have the House of Saud funneling a lot of
cash and TOW anti-tank missiles to the Army of Conquest, which is
nothing but an al-Qaeda-led coalition of the willing displaying
relatively overlapping agendas (first regime change, then Caliphate
or Muslim Brotherhood reign).
There’s no evidence – yet – that ISIS/ISIL/Daesh
has been depleted of the bulk of their shoulder-fired anti-aircraft
plus anti-tank guided missiles.
So while Vienna talks, what is ISIS/ISIL/Daesh
really up to?
They are about to choose between two different
- They dig in in Raqqa – the former capital of
the Abbasid Caliphate, before Baghdad – waiting for a Mother of
All Battles. After all they can’t afford to lose it, as Raqqa,
geostrategically, is the ultimate crossroads in Syria. Former
Ba’athist military and a cluster of Arab nationalists are
lobbying for this strategy.
- Forget about digging in. The best is to
expand the frontline, into the deeper desert, to the max. This
means no clusters of targets available to the Russian Air Force,
with the added benefit of the “4+1” – as in the Syrian Arab Army
(SAA)/Iran/Hezbollah ground units supported by the Russian Air
Force — overextending their lines of communication/supply and
being faced with extra logistical problems. Hardcore Turks,
Chechens, Uyghurs and Uzbeks are lobbying for this strategy.
Arguably the ISIS/ISIL/Daesh command is leaning
towards option 2 – because of the Jihad Inc. component. At least
2,000 fake “Caliphate” goons – most of them from
Chechnya, Turkey, Central Asia and Xinjiang – were killed in Kobani,
which, unlike Raqqa, had no strategic value. The Jihad Inc. gang now
wants to expand all the way to Central Asia, Xinjiang, Russia and,
if they manage to find an opening, Europe and the US.
Option 2 also carries the added benefit, for
fighting purposes, of extra support for “moderate jihadis” (not
“rebels”), which means more interaction with Ahrar al-Sham, Liwa al-Tawhid,
a few Army of Conquest factions, the Islamic Front and a bunch of
Turkmen Salafi groups. None of these, by the way, are “moderate
All these outfits would perfect mesh into an ISIS/ISIL/Daesh
“expanding frontline” strategy, defended, among others, by one
Muslim Shishani, Chechen commander of the Jund al-Sham, which is
currently fighting around Latakia.
Shishani, significantly, told al-Jazeera Turk,
“Fronts [such] as Raqqa and Aleppo will have no significance in a
ground war against the Russians. The real war will be on the
Tartus-Latakia front line. Jihad must be moved to that area.”
So imagine all of these outfits coalescing on an
internal jihad plus global jihad platform, and still flush with
cash. It’s no secret that Russian intel is alarmed by the high
number of Chechens in the fake “Caliphate” ranks, not to mention
Chinese intel regarding the Uyghurs. These may find very hard to
return to Xinjiang; but the Chechens will be back in the Caucasus.
That’s the famous “Aleppo is 900 km away from Grozny” syndrome.
To add to the royal mess, FSB director Alexander
Bortnikov has already warned about a concentration of Taliban – many
of whom pledged allegiance to the fake “Caliphate” — at
Afghanistan’s northern borders with Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. For
Putin and the Russian intel apparatus, the situation in Afghanistan
is “close to critical”. A jihad spillover across Central Asia is all
The bottom line, thus, is stark. Move over,
al-Qaeda; ISIS/ISIL/Daesh is using the “4+1” offensive to forge its
identity as the leader of a Global Jihad. Saudi imams anyway have
already declared jihad against Russia. And the decrepit Al-Azhar in
Cairo is about to do the same thing.
Check the Iranian game
There’s no evidence the Obama administration is
about to admit all “moderate rebels” are, after all, jihadis. The
ISIS/ISIL/Daesh command, anyway, is waiting; were that to happen –
as in Washington sharing Moscow’s analysis – all outfits will switch
to Global Jihad mode, led by the fake “Caliphate.”
It’s already murky enough as it stands. The mix of
Syrian/Iranian ground intel plus the Russian air campaign have to
make sure not only that ISIS/ISIL/Daesh does not have the hardware
nor the manpower to defend Raqqa; they also need to cut off all
their communication/supply lines with those jihadis who are fighting
the “4+1” in western Syria.
Even under attack by the Russian Air Force, which
forced a large number of goons and their families to flee Syria for
the Western Iraq desert, ISIS/ISIL/Daesh managed to make progress in
southern Aleppo, infiltrating al-Safira, and keeping control of at
least 10 checkpoints along the crucial supply line that runs from
Hama, through Salamiyeh, Ithriyah and Khanaser, all the way to
Aleppo. The SAA simply cannot afford to lose this corridor; now
that’s priority number one. Hundreds of thousands of Aleppo
civilians, meanwhile, are trying to survive as de facto hostages.
It’s crucial to check out the Iranian game on the
ground. The best source so far has been the deputy commander of the
Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), Brig. Gen. Husayn Salami,
who talked extensively to the Vision of the Islamic Republic of Iran
Salami – that’s the IRGC speaking – frames Syria
as the “focal point of strategic efforts made by an international
coalition” to implement a “destructive political scheme in the
Islamic world.” By “international coalition” he means NATO plus the
Saudis. Iran’s role is “guaranteeing the political, psychological,
economic and military stability of the Syrian system.”
He frames Iran’s role on four levels. “On a
strategic level, we support the Syrian government, nation and army
politically and psychologically. As advisors, we transfer our war
experiences to top commanders in the Syrian army. Actually, we are
helping them modernize and rebuild the structure of the Syrian army
… When it comes to the operational level, we are helping brigade
commanders for example … This is why a number of our commanders are
there and are helping in planning and devising operational
strategies.” Iran also helps at a tactical and technical (logistic)
And here’s something absolutely key – as well as
anathema for the House of Saud; “Our national security is
intertwined with the security of important parts of the Islamic
world, the national security of Syria. This is the main philosophy
behind our presence [in Syria].” The nuance that US Think Tankland
is incapable of spotting is this doesn’t have anything to do with
keeping Assad in power forever, as Iranian diplomats are now saying
on the record.
Salami also stressed Russia went into Syria
because otherwise it would have to fight jihad at home (that’s
exactly what the Chechens at ISIS/ISIL/Daesh want). Putin’s Syria
strategy, by the way, has been fully supported by the speaker of the
Iranian parliament, Ali Larijani, who was a key guest at the Valdai
summit last week.
I’m the Caliph; hear me roar
Faced with the Russian/Iranian strategy, what is
the Empire of Chaos to do?
Murk the already murky sands, what else? That
sorry lot that passes for Obama’s “senior national security
advisers” has recommended positioning US Special Forces closer to
ISIS/ISIL/Daesh in Syria.
This special “guidance” is supposed to help the
coalition known as Democratic Forces of Syria – which is led by the
YPG Kurds – to take Raqqa. But that does not necessarily mean US
Special Forces will be fighting alongside the “4+1” towards the same
objective. After all, we’re always thrown back deep into Geopolitics
Surrealistan – where the US-led Coalition of the Dodgy Opportunists
(CDO) totally ignores what the “4+1” are doing. And don’t forget
intra-coalition hatred — as in Ankara abhorring the US insistence on
working with Syrian Kurds.
As for Iraq, the Obama administration and the
Pentagon now barely qualify as the butt end of running jokes. Sunnis
in Anbar province are furious that the mightiest satellite
surveillance system in history simply failed to register ISIS/ISIL/Daesh’s
advances, from Tikrit to Ramadi and environs.
To add a final insult to (repeated) injuries – as
in the “4+1” intel center in Baghdad, excluding the US, plus the
authorization for Russia to bomb fake “Caliphate” convoys trying to
cross from the Syrian desert – Baghdad and the EU have just agreed
to set up yet another intel center to exchange data on ISIS/ISIL/Daesh.
The bottom line is the Obama administration is absolutely terrified
that the EU is inclined to support the Russian campaign –
increasingly regarding the CDO for what it is; a joke.
The near future offers even more dangerous
surrealist instances; think of the Obama administration helping
Shi’ite militias to take Mosul in Iraq back from ISIS/ISIL/Daesh,
and at the same time helping Kurds in Syria to take back Raqqa, an
Arab city. All hell is bound to break loose between Sunnis across
“Syraq” and Americans – and ISIS/ISIL/Daesh will mightily profit
As it stands, there’s not going to be a frontal
attack on Aleppo by the SAA and Iran/Hezbollah, covered by the
Russian Air Force; instead, the “4+1” strategy will be to disrupt to
the max the logistical supply routes to all Salafi-jihadi outfits,
which implies trying to cut off the flux of cash and weapons
smuggled via Turkey.
But once again; what about the Empire of Chaos?
The Obama administration is essentially fighting —
sort of — ISIS/ISIL/Daesh in Iraq, where Washington lost a
multi-trillion dollar war. Team Obama never bothered to fight the
fake “Caliphate” in Syria — because they were contributing to the
“Assad must go” agenda.
Sultan Erdogan – with Ankara at the table in
Vienna – is still allowed to have a free-for-all border out of which
ISIS/ISIL/Daesh profits handsomely. And the paranoid, Shi’ite-hating
House of Saud – with Riyadh at the table in Vienna – is still
allowed to shower all manner of Salafi-jihadi goons with all manner
of weapons. This is what passes for Obama’s policy in Syria, as the
Caliph’s roaring laughter can be heard all the way to Vienna.
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