The self-proclaimed “Caliph” of Da’esh/ISIL/ISIS, Ibrahim Ali al-Badri al-Samarri, who took the name Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has blown himself up after US special forces successfully attacked his compound in Idlib province of Syria near the Turkish border after a US military dog attacked him. (His nom de guerre was chosen for its links to historical caliphs, the leaders of global Sunni Islam after the death of the Prophet Muhammed supposedly in his place, with Abu Bakr being the first such after the death of his son-in-law the Prophet and al-Baghdadi invoking the capital of the most powerful of all the caliphates, the Abbasid that ruled for 500 years from their capital in Baghdad). A few observations.
While President Trump Trump bragged about this success of the US military for 46 minutes as a personal success of his own, the event was delayed for nearly a week and almost did not happen as al-Baghdadi was reportedly on the verge of moving again from the compound he was caught in because Trump had allowed Turkey to invade northeastern Syria, disrupting the Syrian Kurds there who had been the main US allies against Da’esh and al-Baghdadi, thus disrupting temporarily the planned attack.
While Trump most prominently thanked Russia and secondarily Turkey for their assistance in his speech while barely mentioning the US Kurdish allies, it was the latter who not only were largely responsible for ending the self-proclaimed caliphate as an entity ruling over people and territory in Syria, but also reportedly according to the Washington Post developed the mole within al-Baghdadi’s circle who provided the crucial intelligence on al-Baghdadi’s whereabouts and the details of his compound that made it possible to carry out this attack successfully. The only thing Russia did was allow this attack to go forward as they reportedly control the airspace over Idlib province. I am unaware of anything Turkey did to help this at all and in fact had in the past allowed goods to flow to Da’esh across the Turkish-Syrian border and most recently has been de facto supporting the al-Qaeda-related groups controlling Idlib province on the ground, with al-Baghdadi’s compound near the Turkish border and the remnants of Da’esh apparently forming an alliance with those groups after having split from al-Qaeda in Iraq originally, with al-Qaeda considering them to be too violent.
In his bragging account of the successful operation Trump appears to have made up some details out of whole cloth in order to heighten the drama of it all, including perhaps most importantly a claim that al-Baghdadi was crying and screaming in a cowardly way at the end, something that has not been supported or verified at all by anybody publicly having primary knowledge of the events there.
Obviously Trump’s decision to let Turkey invade Syria against the Kurds there and to describe these allies without whom al-Baghdadi would not have been found to be “worse terrorists then ISIS” as well as “no angels” as well as approving the entry of Russian and Syrian national troops into northeastern Syria reflects his admiration for the leaders of Turkey and Russia, where has major hotels in Istanbul and long has had financial relations with Russian oligarchs and desires to have a Trump Tower in Moscow. His willingness to nearly botch this operation by betraying the Kurds (language used by Putin’s press secretary, Peskov, regarding his actions) seems best explained by Trump’s ongoing view of himself as “being primarily in the hospitality business” as his Acting Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney inadverdently put it in an interview on TV.
We finally have the absurd spectacle of Trump deciding to keep 200 troops in Syria to control a small group of oil wells there that Da’esh had gotten money from selling oil from until the SDF took control of them, but with the largely Syrian Kurdish SDF (which includes Christian Arabs) on the run thanks to the Turkish invasion, control of those wells might fall into the hands of either Da’esh agaiin, who will probably gain from this invasion given the freeing of over 100 fighters, despite the death of its leader, al-Baghdadi, or Syrian national troops backed by the Russians or maybe even the Turks. Trump is under the fantasy that this oil might be developed and sold by an American company, but none will do so given that they are actually in Syrian national territory and thus this would be illegal internationally, as well as the area being a war zone. Trump is simply delusional on this matter.
While I do not wish any particular person dead and oppose the death penalty, I do not mourn the horrible al-Baghdadi and am glad to see him no longer around to lead the remnants of Da’esh/ISIL/ISIS (I continue to be appalled by the insistence of western media of calling this renegade murderous outfit “the Islamic State” thus spreading the group’s own propaganda). But rather than deserving praise for this outcome, President Trump deserved the booing and “Lock Him Up” chants he experienced at the fifth game of the World Series given his betrayal of the Kurds that nearly made this operation impossible.
A final note is that in the wake of this, for the first time ever, the US House of Representatives has passed a resolution condemning Turkey for its refusal to recognize and apologized for the genocide carried out by the Turkish-dominated Ottoman Empire in 1915 against the Armenians. This resolution, likely not to be passed in the Senate, had strong bipartisan support in the House. It is about time, and the credibility of Turkey’s claims of innocence in the 1915 matter are as good as their claims that the SDF was carrying out terror attacks against them, which is basically near zero in both cases.
Oh, Happy Halloween everybody. I figures this makes for an appropriate post on Halloween.