The best characterisation of the effects of NATO’s policies on the Middle East (or what is known within the subcontinent as West Asia) would be that of a hugely overgrown child let loose in a room filled with delicate artefacts. Very soon, the precious items placed inside the room would begin to disintegrate under the attentions of the monstrous infant, until finally nothing of value was left. Each theatre of conflict that some or all the member states of NATO have entered, resembles the room mentioned above, whether it be Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya or Syria. Governance dissolves into chaos, order into a hellish state of uncertainty and insecurity. Small wonder that on seeing the havoc created by the “giant child in the room”, the new — and elected — government of Iraq insisted that US and other coalition forces should leave. Scholars within the NATO bloc are still unable to accept that the blame for any of the catastrophes which follow an occupation of a country by that alliance are its own fault, and instead are prolific in coming up with excuse-laden explanations for even the direst of situations. Such evasions of NATO responsibility are as usual echoed by the growing army of Third World scholars, whose mission in life is to somehow win a grant or a position courtesy a NATO-based institution, and who realise that the most effective path to that goal is to repeat the arguments given by NATO thinkers, of course with a few irrelevant modifications.
Thus it is that academic and other policy institutions in underdeveloped countries serve as an echo chamber for much of the geopolitical drivel churned out by their counterparts from the more advanced countries within the NATO alliance, especially concerning the Middle East.
That ISIS (or Daesh) has morphed into its present state from the gangs of ultra-Wahhabis trained, funded and armed by NATO member-states and their regional allies — notably Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar — is by now impossible to conceal, try though media channels hewing to the NATO line seek to portray that organisation as the consequence of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s efforts to hold back precisely the sort of fighters from which Daesh has metamorphosed. Had the prayers of John McCain and Hillary Clinton (whose geopolitical vision is similar, although the language and the imagery used may not always be) been answered and Assad driven out of Damascus into a grave, that city would have become another Tripoli, a seething pile of militias with Daesh at the core, and the Syrian refugee crisis would be much worse.
Rather than please their friends in Ankara, Doha and Riyadh, by condemning President Putin’s backing for the regime in Damascus, John Kerry and others demanding the fall of Assad should be grateful that the present regime still controls enough territory to ensure that five million more Syrians do not join those already in Europe or on the way to that continent.
Those baying for the blood of the current head of state of Syria forget that it was during the period when Bashar Assad controlled the entire territory of the country that Christians, Druze, moderate Sunnis and other minorities were safe, unlike the situation that faced them once the territories they were residing in were “liberated” by armed groups funded by Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, and backed by NATO member-states.
Unfortunately, it was precisely at the time when the Alawite leader was opening his country up to tourism and international business that Sultan Recip Tayyip Erdogan, together with his fellow royals in Qatar and Saudi Arabia, decided that they could depose him with the assistance of NATO a la Libya.
The “agreements” recently arrived at in the matter of Libya and then Syria are of value only as photo-ops, as neither will change the ground situation in two countries, which have been chopped to pieces by the intervention of NATO and its allies. Since George W. Bush decided to avenge the insults heaped on his father George H.W. Bush by Saddam Hussein by the simple expedient of occupying Iraq and destroying the regime, replacing it with a situation where looters went about their business with impunity.
Since the humiliation caused to the Arab psyche by the overt takeover of a large Arab country, hundreds of thousands there, possibly millions, have fallen victim to a psychotic state in which organisations such as ISIS are seen as saviours.
Despite efforts by think-tanks on both sides of the Atlantic to pretend otherwise, it is not Turkey that is the answer to such a disease of the mind as ultra-Wahhabism.
Rather, the solution vests with Indonesia and India, both countries with huge Muslim populations that are overwhelmingly moderate and syncretic, rather than fanatic and exclusivist, accommodative rather than supremacist, in their chemistry. It is the Muslims of Indonesia and India, two countries which hopefully will work much closer together in the coming decades than they have in the past, who offer a societal pathway out of terror and turmoil, especially to the Middle East, and within which is still vibrant a theology that rejects the hate and the cruelty typified by ISIS and its ideological clones, groups that have done much damage to the image of a great faith.