An influential Israeli thinktank with deep political ties to Washington has called on the West to stop fighting Daesh (Isis/Isil) and instead embrace the genocidal terror group as “a useful tool” for weakening Israel’s enemies.
Israeli support for al-Qaida in the Golan region
It’s no secret that Israel has long tolerated and actively facilitated al-Qaida’s presence along its disputed Golan border during the course of war in Syria. While Israel has attacked Syrian government positions and infrastructure at least nine times during the last three years, often with massive airstrikes, international media outlets and observers have documented multiple instances of active cooperation between Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and the Nusra Front (al-Qaida’s Syrian affiliates). Nusra has, alongside Daesh and the Free Syrian Army (FSA), led the fight against the Assad regime in southern Syria over the course of the war.
While the Israeli government has been careful to cast itself as being at the forefront of the ‘war on terror’ to an international audience, its domestic press and policy establishment has been more forthcoming in acknowledging Israel’s quiet strategic partnership with groups like Nusra (which in summer 2016 changed its name–though not its ideology–to Jabhat Fateh al-Sham in a public rebranding effort).
Israel’s oldest and most influential daily newspaper, Haaretz, once described al-Qaida in Syria as a “kinder” wing of the international movement co-founded by Osama bin Laden, which was “better at keeping order” for Syrian civilians living in areas under its control than other groups were. Ironically, this came within an article describing the plight of Syrian Christians, who have suffered greatly in places controlled by anti-Assad militants.
A top CIA official confirms al-Qaida/Israel cooperation
In a 2015 interview with The Jerusalem Post, former Acting Director of the CIA Michael Morell went so far as to warn Israel against what the Post‘s interviewer called “tacit understandings with the Nusra Front”. Morell said:
From my experience following al-Qaida I think and believe that you must not try to cut deals with them… But it is a dangerous game. Even if you cut a deal with them, they won’t honor it.
Israel’s transporting and treatment of wounded al-Qaida terrorists fighting in Syria has been so out in the open that even the The Wall Street Journal‘s coverage of the relationship included the following bizarre observation:
For now, parts of the Golan frontier that are controlled by Nusra and other rebels are so quiet that Israeli children are brought on school trips to sightseeing spots near the fence.
But this information is nothing new for analysts that have closely followed and taken note of the radical views of Israel’s foreign policy establishment. In 2004, Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Steve Coll alleged that Israel had “supported Hamas covertly” in order to undermine the largely secular PLO in the 1980s.
Since the start of the Syrian conflict, meanwhile, former Israeli ambassador to the US Michael Orin has been consistent in his public articulation of Israel’s preference for undermining what he calls the “Tehran-Damascus-Beirut arc” at all costs, even if that should mean the rise and further strengthening of Daesh.
A plea for Daesh to do Israel’s dirty work
The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies, one of Israel’s most internationally visible and influential thinktanks, has now taken the policy of Israel’s “tacit understandings” with al-Qaida even further. A policy publication released in early August 2016 makes a direct appeal to Israel’s western partners with the unambiguous message contained in the essay’s title:
The Destruction of Islamic State [Daesh] is a Strategic Mistake
The essay begins with an accurate assessment of Daesh as a genocidal terror group which routinely engages in practices like “gruesome pictures of beheadings” and other shocking crimes. But then, author Efraim Inbar (Director of the Begin-Sadat Centre) turns to arguing against a Western military campaign against Daesh. He envisions the group as an effective tool in sowing terror and chaos in Iran and Syria, with the added benefit of keeping Russia bogged down in defence of the Assad government. Inbar spells this out clearly:
The continuing existence of IS [Daesh] serves a strategic purpose.
He continues, insisting:
The American administration does not appear capable of recognizing the fact that IS can be a useful tool in undermining Tehran’s ambitious plan for domination of the Middle East.
But what about all of those beheadings and mass acts of ethnic and religious cleansing?
The obvious moral questions raised by the proposal of Israeli and Western use of Daesh for a “strategic purpose” are dismissed with a single callous line:
The Western distaste for IS brutality and immorality should not obfuscate strategic clarity.
The thinktank’s disturbing links with NATO and the US
According to Salon‘s Ben Norton, the Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies is not some mere independent outlier within Israeli and Western policy circles. As he explains, the thinktank proudly lists that it is under contract with both the Israeli government and NATO:
The think tank, known by its acronym BESA, is affiliated with Israel’s Bar Ilan University and has been supported by the Israeli government, the NATO Mediterranean Initiative, the U.S. embassy in Israel and the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs.
BESA also says it “conducts specialized research on contract to the Israeli foreign affairs and defense establishment, and for NATO.”
Sadly, such an obvious scandal as this prominent and well-connected thinktank’s public rallying on behalf of Daesh will go largely unnoticed in the mainstream Western press.
But the public must take notice. So called ‘experts’ and their respected institutions that shamelessly propagandise for terrorists under the guise of ‘policy’ must be driven from the public sphere and far away from access to citizens’ tax dollars.
– Learn about the history of establishment thinktanks and war here.
– In the US, call your Congressional representative and protest the programme of regime change in the Middle East.
– Support The Canary so we can keep holding the powerful to account.
Featured image via Gal Asuach, IDF Spokesperson’s Unit/Wikimedia Commons
Fund our Investigations Unit
You can help us investigate corruption, expose injustice and uncover the truth.
As one of the only independent investigations units in the country, we work for you – but we need your help to keep going. We need to raise £10,000 to continue our groundbreaking investigations. Can you chip in?