Increasingly difficult to cover-up or spin, it is becoming apparent even in Western media coverage that the so-called “Islamic State” (ISIS) is not sustaining its fighting capacity from within Iraq or Syria, but rather through supply lines that lead to and from adjacent nations. These nations include Jordan, Lebanon, Israel, and most obviously, NATO-member Turkey.
It was in Germany’s international broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW)’s report, “‘IS’ supply channels through Turkey,” that hundreds of trucks destined for ISIS held territory were videotaped waiting at Oncupinar, Turkey to cross over into Syria with apparently no oversight by the Turkish government. Later, TIME magazine would admit ISIS’ dependence on the Syrian town of Tal Abyad, just across the border from Turkey, for supplies and the significance of its loss to Kurdish fighters in sustaining their fighting capacity both at the border and beyond.
AP’s June 2015 report, “Kurds move to cut off ISIS supply lines in Syria,” would state:
Syrian Kurdish fighters closed in on the outskirts of a strategic Islamic State of Iraq and Syria-held town on the Turkish border Sunday, Kurdish officials and an activist group said, potentially cutting off a key supply line for the extremists’ nearby de facto capital.
Taking Tal Abyad, some 50 miles from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) stronghold of Raqqa, would mean the group wouldn’t have a direct route to bring in new foreign militants or supplies. The Kurdish advance, coming under the cover of intense U.S.-led coalition airstrikes in the area, also would link their two fronts and put even more pressure on Raqqa as Iraqi forces struggle to contain the group in their country.
And while US airstrikes are credited for Kurdish advances against ISIS, one wonders why the US, whose military including a US airbase at Incirlik, Turkey and US special forces as well as the CIA are operating along and across the Syrian border in Turkey – hasn’t done more to interdict ISIS supply lines before they reach Syria and awaiting terrorists.
The Kurds and Syria’s military both realize the importance of stemming terrorist armies within Syria by cutting them off from their supplies at Syria’s borders. However, both the Kurds and Syrian forces are increasingly limited from securing these borders due to an ever-expanding “safe haven” the US and its regional allies are carving out of Syrian territory. Turkey and Israel have both attacked Syrian forces in these “safe havens” creating a virtual sanctuary for Al Qaeda affiliates including Al Nusra and ISIS.
Efforts to “assist” the Kurds appear only to have been a pretext to violate Syrian airspace first, then Syrian territory on the ground second. America’s meager “Division 30″ of less than 60 fighters trained in Turkey then sent to fight the thousands upon thousands of terrorists the US and its allies have been arming, training, and sending over Syria’s borders for years was yet another attempt to make ISIS and Al Nusra’s gains appear a result of Western folly rather than of Western design.
How the West Can Stop ISIS Without Setting Foot in Syria
An old military maxim states: “an army marches on its stomach.” Logic dictates that an army with empty stomachs is unable to march. Napoleon Bonaparte who is credited with this quote, found out first hand just how true these words were when his army found itself deep within Russia without supplies, leading to its ultimate and catastrophic defeat.
Likewise, ISIS’ fighting capacity depends entirely on its supply lines. Cutting these supply lines will lead to its inevitable defeat. For the United States, who is either allied with or has troops operating in all nations bordering Syria, cutting ISIS’ supply lines would be a simple matter – that is – if the United States was truly interested in defeating ISIS and other Al Qaeda affiliates.
While the United States has assisted Turkey in erecting missile defenses along its border with Syria in order to create a defacto no-fly-zone providing Al Nusra and ISIS with an invaluable sanctuary, little to no effort has been spent in increasing border security – specifically the searching for and interdiction of terrorist fighters, weapons, and other supplies. As German DW’s report illustrated, it appears Turkey’s borders are not only dangerously wide open, but intentionally so, with little or no effort at all by Turkey to stem the torrent of obvious ISIS supply convoys from passing through.
DW would likely videotape a similar situation unfolding in Jordan near its border with Syria, close to Syrian cities like Daraa which have become battle-torn as Syrian forces desperately try to stem the torrent of fighters and weapons flowing over the borders there, aimed ultimately at Damascus.
The US Can Stop ISIS in One Month… If it Wanted
By cutting off ISIS from its money, supplies, additional fighters, weapons, and essential equipment, it would quickly be overwhelmed by Syrian and Iraqi forces. Without cash to pay fighters, and without new fighters to replace those lost in fighting, morale would quickly falter. Without a constant torrent of weapons, ammunition, and fuel, ISIS and other Al Qaeda affiliates would quickly lose their tactical capabilities. Fighters unable to flee would be encircled and destroyed as has happened deep within Syria’s interior where Syrian forces have been able to cut supply lines to key cities and starve out terrorist armies.
Syria is intentionally prevented from securing its borders through an increasingly overt “buffer zone” or “safe haven” the US and its regional allies are creating for the purpose of sheltering clearly non-existent “moderate rebels.” What these “safe havens” are in actuality doing, is ensuring ISIS’ supply lines remain intact. With the Kurds – the only effective force near the Turkish-Syrian border able to threaten ISIS’ supply lines – now being attacked by Turkish forces directly, what little obstacles supplies had in reaching ISIS through Turkey is being swiftly negated.
The US and its allies could easily increase security along Syria’s borders and permanently cut ISIS and other Al Qaeda affiliates supply lines without having to enter Syrian airspace or cross onto Syrian soil. Just as easily as the US built a line of missile defenses facing Syria, it could create border checkpoints and patrols within Turkey to interdict and effectively stem all weapons and fighters flowing to ISIS. It could, but it intentionally doesn’t.
The implications are obvious. ISIS is both a creation and intentional perpetuation of US foreign policy. Just as the US so many years ago colluded with Saudi Arabia in the creation of Al Qaeda in the mountains of Afghanistan in the first place, it to this day colludes with its regional allies to use Al Qaeda and its various rebrandings – including ISIS – to fight wars Western troops cannot fight. This includes dividing and destroying Syria – the overtly stated, true objective of US policymakers.
Could Syria and its allies create their own “buffer zone” in northern Syria? Could international troops be brought in, with the inclusion of UN observers to secure the Syrian border and put in check attempts by both Turkey and the US to engage Syrian and Kurdish fighters attempting to restore order there?
The incremental strategy of carving out northern Syria, claiming to shelter “moderate rebels” while in reality securing further ISIS’ supply lines and providing them an increasingly unassailable safe haven from which to launch operations deeper into Syria, is inching along and will inevitably pay off at the expense of Syrian territorial integrity, stability, and perhaps even its existence as a functioning state if no measures are taken to counter this conspiracy.
The basics of logistics and the simple fact that the US can both fight and defeat ISIS by simply securing Turkey and Jordan’s borders must be repeatedly brought up by non-Western media and diplomatic circles – highlighting the fact that Syria’s conflict is one of foreign invasion, not civil war. The conflict can be brought to an end, along with all the horrors associated with it, by simply checking ISIS’ bags at the Turkish border. If the US and Turkey refuse to do this, someone must check them on the other side, someone the US and Turks may hesitate to attack as they have the Syrians and Kurds.
Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine“New Eastern Outlook”.