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article imageOp-Ed: US contemplating extension of attacks on IS into Syria

By Ken Hanly     Aug 23, 2014 in World
Washington D.c. - The US is not only escalating its bombing activities to help the Kurds and central government in Iraq, it is now beginning to talk of the necessity of attacking IS in Syria as well.
The US appears to agree with IS that there is no longer any real border between Iraq and Syria at least where IS has control. For IS it is all part of the one caliphate. For the US it is all part of territory controlled by IS. Recently, General Martin Dempsey claimed that the Iraq war was not winnable unless IS was attacked in Syria or as he put it "both sides of what is essentially at this stage a nonexistent border". He said that extending air strikes into Syria would only be one of a number of steps that would need to be taken.
Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes echoed the same refrain as Dempsey saying: “We’re not going to be restricted by borders." Rhodes said that the US would do what was necessary to protect Americans and added:"We’ve made very clear time and again that if you come after Americans, we’re going to come after you wherever you are. And that’s what’s going to guide our planning in the days to come.”
Even though the US administration insists that "boots on the ground" are not on the agenda experts insist that airstrikes on their own will not defeat IS. For the most part, the US will no doubt use proxy troops from the Kurdish peshmerga, and the Iraqi armed forces in Iraq, and "moderate" rebels perhaps along with Syrian Kurdish fighters in Syria. The US is already along with other countries sending arms directly to the Kurdish Regional Government in Iraq. Whether this will be sufficient remains to be seen. There are already around 1,000 US special forces in Iraq. Some could be sent to Syria as well. In fact it was revealed that some US special forces unsuccessfully tried to rescue journalist Jame Foley. There are already "boots on the ground" fighting IS in Iraq, the US officials simply do not want to admit it because it might cause a negative reaction among many in the US. In any event, the US will try to adopt a policy that minimizes any US casualties in order not to provoke domestic protests against US policies.
At present IS is in direct conflict with Assad. However, if the US and the rebels it supports mount a concerted attack against it in Syria, IS may decide to make a tactical deal with Assad not to attack Assad territory as long as Assad does not attack them. At present, Assad is vigorously attacking IS even bombing the main city they hold Raqa.This could change. Assad gains from the conflict among the rebels that IS fosters.
There could be dangers in the US policy of arming proxy forces to battle IS. Arms supplied to "moderate" Syrian forces could very well fall into the hands of IS as has happened to some extent already.US arms supplied to Iraqi forces have been seized by IS in great quantities. The military-industrial complex can gain from all this. The US provides weapons to groups and then ends up having to destroy them because they end up in the wrong hands and then they need to resupply them to proxy forces.
A well-armed Kurdish Regional Government will be in a position to drive a hard bargain with the central Iraqi government but more likely it will seek complete independence and is planning a referendum on the issue. Weapons provided to the Iraqi central government could be used to try and retake territory that the Kurds have already occupied if they refuse to relinquish it. In Syria too the Kurds may be able to increase the territory under their control and Turkey may be concerned about more demands for autonomy from Syrian Kurds on their border.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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