Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.
Monday, March 18, 2019
Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

President Trump now has his own war. The two terror attacks in Iran that left 12 people dead are its opening shots.

ISIS took credit for the attacks, which served its goal of stoking sectarian war. Not coincidentally, the attacks also advanced Trump’s goals of escalating U.S. hostility toward Iran.

Trump inherited wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, and a cold peace with Iran based on the international agreement to limit Iran’s nuclear program. Trump is abiding by the agreement while searching for ways to turn the cold peace into a hot war. His method: commit the United States to take sides in the long-standing political struggle between the Sunni and Shia traditions of Islam.

The Sunni cause is bankrolled by Saudi Arabia, the region’s richest nation, which just bought $110 billion worth of U.S. weapons and relegates women to second-class citizenship. The Shiites are led by anti-American Iran, which has the region’s largest population, 17 women in parliament, and a democratically elected moderate president, Hassan Rouhani.

Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia last month was not a joke about a glowing orb. It was a war council, in which Trump allied the United States with the Sunnis and declared war on the Shiites. And what vital U.S. interest is served by taking sides in a religious civil war waged thousands of miles from American territory? The answer remains obscure and undiscussed in Washington.

In his May 22 scripted remarks in Saudi Arabia, Trump cited terrorism: “For decades, Iran has fueled the fires of sectarian conflict and terror. It is a government that speaks openly of mass murder, vowing the destruction of Israel, death to America, and ruin from many leaders and nations in this very room.”

But all of the terrorists who attacked in Manchester, Paris, New York and Washington were Sunni fundamentalists. None of them were connected with Iran. Iran’s attacks on Americans and Westerners occurred mostly in the 1980s and ’90s. Since 2000, more than 95 percent of terrorist casualties worldwide have been inflicted by Saudi-influenced militants. Trump’s policy is based on a false premise.

ISIS Gets a Pass

An ignorant and embattled commander-in-chief has aligned the United States with Saudi’s theocratic monarchy and its international brigade of Sunni foot soldiers, known as ISIS. The militants of ISIS are Wahhabists, devotees of a Saudi fundamentalist tradition, which abhors Shiism, democracy and women’s rights as contrary to the wishes of Allah. ISIS loathes the heretics of Iran even more than it despises the infidels of the West.

As ISIS lost ground in Iraq and Syria earlier this year, it promised (via a video) to strike in Iran for the first time. Now ISIS has made good on its threats—and the militants, whom Trump likes to describe as “radical Islamic terrorists,” get a pass from the White House.

After ISIS took credit for killing children at a pop music concert, Trump tweeted his rage. After ISIS attacked Iranian tourists and parliamentarians, Trump tweeted about his trip to Cincinnati. The White House later issued a statement that did not mention ISIS or “radical Islamic terrorism,” but did say “states that sponsor terrorism risk falling victim to the evil they promote,” which is pretty much what Osama bin Laden said after the 9/11 attacks.

The president may be morally bankrupt, but his political message is consistent: don’t criticize Saudi allies who are taking the fight to Iran, at least not by name.

War Is Spreading

Trump’s escalation promises more war in a region already punished by armed conflict. Saudi Arabia’s bombing campaign against Iran’s allies in Yemen, waged with U.S.-supplied weapons, has created a humanitarian disaster. The same holds true for Bashar al-Assad’s cruel war on his own people and Saudi-funded ISIS rebels.

Oblivious to the region’s complex realities, Trump fans the flames of war via Twitter.

Yesterday, Trump took credit for the decision of Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf nations to sever diplomatic ties and air travel with Qatar, a tiny wealthy emirate of only 200,000 people. Qatar is the only country in the Gulf that maintains relations with Iran. The goal is to force Qatar to abandon Iran, the better to unify the Sunni countries for the coming conflict.

About Qatar’s isolation, Trump declared grandly:

Not quite. Hours later, ISIS struck in Tehran.

Flashpoints to Watch

The Sunni-Shiite conflict is already spreading to flashpoints where the United States could be drawn into the religious civil war. Two stand out.

Al-Udeid airbase in Qatar: The largest U.S. military base in the region is now hosted by a sovereign government with whom the United States, following the Saudi lead, is now virtually at war. The State Department, under the hapless leadership of Rex Tillerson, appeared to be surprised by this development.

The U.S. military says its flights in and out of the Combined Air Operations Command will be “unaffected” by the sense of crisis pervading the region. The reality is the United States feels the need to issue reassuring statements because the stability has given way to uncertainty under Trump’s provocative policy.

Was Trump unaware his actions would raise the threat level facing U.S. forces? Or did he intend to put U.S. forces on war footing? No one knows because we have little information about how Trump made his decision. Both possibilities are disturbing.

El Tanf in Syria: This city, located on the Syrian-Iraq border, is home to an American base. On Tuesday, U.S. military reported that it attacked allies of the Syrian regime, including Iranian militias, for the second time in three weeks after they ignored warnings to move away from the U.S. base.

American commanders on the ground want to prevent the Iranian militias from using the road to El Tanf as a supply line from their Shiite allies in Iraq. That would strengthen their position as they press the fight on ISIS in northern Syria.

In other words, the United States is now stepping up attacks on the front-line Iranian forces that are fighting ISIS. To wage war on Iran, Trump’s actions relieve pressure on ISIS.

This is new. Before Trump came to office, the U.S.-led coalition focused on ISIS (also known in the region as ISIL or Daesh) and did not initiate fighting with Iranian militias also fighting ISIS. That is now changing, thanks to the influence of National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and Defense Secretary James Mattis, both of whom are hawkish on Iran.

Barbara Slavin, Middle East correspondent for Al-Monitor newspaper, stated what is obvious to the region.

Far from coincidence, the Tehran attacks were the result of the U.S.-Saudi understanding forged last month. While Congress bickers, Trump inflames a religious war and terrorism breaches another frontier.

Jefferson Morley is AlterNet’s Washington correspondent. He is the author of the forthcoming biography The Ghost: The Secret Life of CIA Spymaster James Jesus Angleton (St. Martin’s Press, October 2017) and the 2016 Kindle ebook CIA and JFK: The Secret Assassination Files.

This article was made possible by the readers and supporters of AlterNet.
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33 responses to “Shockingly, Trump Aligns The U.S. With ISIS To Fight Iran”

  1. Mama Bear says:

    OMG this is just exactly what we were afraid this buffoon would do.

    • Just A Citizen says:

      Take a deep breath. This is nothing more than what has been happening for 16 years.

      • delete your account probably says:

        Yes, all the previous Presidents were also openly colluding with foreign masters.

        Traitor.

        • Dominick Vila says:

          Hopefully “Citizen” is a young person expressing his opinion. I can’t imagine an adult making statements such as the ones he makes. As a minimum, his efforts to justify Trump’s actions and statements by saying that they are identical to what President Obama did, is the exact opposite to what the GOP demonized Obama for. Citizen must be too young and never heard conservatives calling President Obama an appeaser, determined to use diplomacy instead of war to settle disputes.

  2. Dominick Vila says:

    Excellent article. As incredible as it may seem, Trump made an agreement with Saudi Arabia, the homeland of the Sunnis, and the radical Wahhabi, to sell $110B worth of weapons to the people responsible for leading, planning, financing, and executing 9/11, and the overwhelming majority of terrorist attacks in the USA and Europe. If that was not enough, he is waging war against the Iranians that are fighting ISIS and Al Qaeda, the two Sunni terrorist organizations responsible for the attacks cited above. The questions that begs to be asked are (1) why are we putting ourselves in the middle of a centuries old religious struggle between the Sunnis and the Shias, and (2) why are we helping those most responsible for terrorism, and a horrendous theocratic system, against a country that has not attacked us since the hostage crisis in the 1970s? Is it ignorance? Is it a deliberate attempt to start another profitable war? Is it ignorance? Whatever the reason, Trump’ actions are the exact opposite to what we should be doing, if our goal is truly to fight terrorism, and after two millennia, they vindicate Judas.

    • Just A Citizen says:

      Did you say the same of Mr. Obama? Because Mr. Trump is just following in every other POTUS ‘s footsteps.

      • delete your account probably says:

        You tell yourself that, traitor.

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      • Independent1 says:

        Not quite there lowlife! Obama tolerated Saudi Arabia, he never embraced the nation and he deliberately refused to provide it with weapons to use against the Yemeni’s. Unlike Trump who has made a total idiot of himself falling all over himself like a slob to prostate himself in front of the Saudi potentates.

        See this:

        Saudis Welcome Trump’s Rebuff of Obama’s Mideast Views

        The start of Mr. Trump’s first trip abroad since becoming president — coming amid the scandals and chaos engulfing his administration —
        was intended to be a blunt rejection of President Barack Obama’s vision for the region. Mr. Obama sought a reconciliation with Iran and
        negotiated of a deal intended to keep Tehran from developing nuclear weapons.

        https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/20/world/middleeast/donald-trump-saudi-arabia.html?_r=0

        Big difference in how Obama and Trump went about trying to handle the volatile Mideast situation.

        • Just A Citizen says:

          TRYING to change hisotry already? You people just blow my mind at times.

          • delete your account probably says:

            Yeah how dare you try to change the moronic cartoon history that white supremacists learn off cereal boxes, independent1

            why it is almost like you aren’t an illiterate racist traitor or something

          • Being such a toady and myrmidon in Trump’s cheerleader squad blows the mind of all rational people. And you are now the main pom-pom girl.

        • dpaano says:

          President Obama obviously understood more about the danger of aligning the U.S. with the Saudis than our idiot clown president!

      • Dominick Vila says:

        President Obama had diplomatic problems with both Saudi Arabia and Israel. His problems with Saudi Arabia were influenced by the knowledge that Saudi Arabia, and especially its Wahhabi sect, is the country most aligned with international terrorism. His problems with Israel stemmed from that country’s expansionism, particularly the construction of Jewish settlements in Palestinian territories, which he considered a hindrance to the establishment of a two-state solution. His position was criticized strongly by Republicans. Your desperate attempt to justify and support Trump’s actions by saying that what he is doing is exactly the same his predecessor did, is nothing short of comical considering the fact that most of Trump’s EOs undo everything President Obama did.

      • Must you be a dunderhead all your life? Did you sign a pact with Mephisto or some woodland druid to be as infantile in your thinking for the rest of your life?
        Rather than respond to Trump’s idiocy and haphazard was of thinking, you have to stoop to your level of comfort characterized by refuting every wrong thing about Trump with the same tiresome formulaic retort—“Well. what about Obama?”
        Since you have a serious problem with basic comprehension, let me help you. The article is about a crisis today, and not about what happened last year? The article is about tensions today in the Middle East, and not about the Civil War or some other irrelevant occurrence. The article is about a bone-headed decision by Trump, and not about what President Obama was compelled to do in a situation with nuances that have changed considerably over the past year alone. Most of all, the article is MAINLY about Trump’s ass-backward understanding of the dangers of irritating Iran by way of lauding ISIS for its cowardly attack in Tehran.
        So, if you want to leave this world having regained your sense of dignity and nobility, and having shown your appreciation to your Creator by learning to use the gift of reasoning rresponsibly, I suggest you start right now!!!

      • You’re confused. Read the article again, but this time try to be objective and not fixated on President Obama. The article is about Trump’s haphazard incompetent way of thinking, and linking every fault of Trump with his predecessor is puerile.
        The article refers to current affairs and decisions today, and not about General Lee, or Grant’s battlefield strategies, or about WW2.

    • dpaano says:

      Trust me, Dom, it’s TOTAL IGNORANCE on the part of Trump and his minions, none of whom have a scintilla of brains when it comes to foreign affairs! Secondly, as I said, the Saudi’s didn’t actually “BUY” $110B of weapons; they only signed a “promise” to purchase sometime in the future. We can sincerely hope that this NEVER happens!

  3. FireBaron says:

    “The Sunni cause is bankrolled by Saudi Arabia, the region’s richest nation, which just bought $110 billion worth of U.S. weapons and relegates women to second-class citizenship.” That’s a damn lie. Everyone knows that Saudi Arabian women have fewer rights than male slaves still held by Saudi royalty!

    • dpaano says:

      And we also know that they didn’t ACTUALLY “buy” $110B worth of U.S. weapons…they only “promised” to try to purchase that much in the near future. I doubt they even have that kind of money!

  4. What’s more shocking is that Trump is being allowed to pontificate on matters he clearly is too lazy to delve into deeply in order to understand the big picture. His refusal to think competently is an ever-present danger, and if his irrational nature is unchecked will spur Iran to become more extremist than its theocrats already are.

    • FireBaron says:

      He doesn’t need to think as long as he has Steve Bannon (yeah, he’s still around) to tell him what to say and Jarrod to blame it on when things go south on him.

      • dpaano says:

        Personally, I have NO respect for the Saudis and it’s amazing to me that our illustrious orange-haired clown of a president doesn’t have a clue as to why we need to distance ourselves from these people! He will end up starting a religious war between Iran and Saudi Arabia, and then he’ll expect us to “step in” and fight with the Saudi’s….just what they were hoping for all along!!!

        • Independent1 says:

          Somebody else agrees with your assessment that the Saudi’s can’t afford Trump’s weapons deal (your comment below):

          Opinion: The Saudis can’t afford Trump’s arms deal

          “Weapons are like money,” said British novelist Martin Amis, “no one knows the meaning of enough.”

          That’s certainly true of Saudi Arabia, whose appetite for arms and addiction to petrodollars have caused an economic obesity that the U.S., which should be this kingdom’s dietician, has just set out to redouble.

          The $110 billion worth of arms deals that President Donald Trump and King Salman inked Sunday are beyond Riyadh’s means, irrelevant to its pressing needs, and injurious to American
          interests.

          http://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-saudis-cant-afford-trumps-arms-deal-2017-05-22

          • dpaano says:

            Plus, as I said, he only signed a “proposal” and not a contract. This means that they MAY purchase weapons, but it doesn’t mean that they will anytime soon. I think the orange-haired clown president was just patting himself on the back and hoping his ill-informed voters don’t realize that he actually did nothing on his ridiculous, embarrassing trip!

  5. nutbar says:

    Every day the trump presidency becomes more like watching a rat try and navigate a maze, except this rat can never find the cheese.

  6. dpaano says:

    Once again, our ill-informed, totally uninvolved idiot of a president is out to start another war, much like his buddy, GWB, who had Cheney driving him (now we have Bannon whispering into Trump’s ear). For a president who stated he was SOOO smart, he has proven to be exceedingly DUMB when it comes for foreign affairs! As I’ve said many times, by the end of the first year, we’ll either be in a serious depression or in a war!

  7. Richard Prescott says:

    I would state here, it may not be Trump, but President Bannon who is responsible. Yes, Mattis and McMaster are hawkish on Iran, but should take direction from the President. If he is not running the country, then who is running it?
    Also, as has been reported, that “$110 B deal” is not a done thing yet. His signing what he did was not a finished work, it was a proposal.
    Once again the orange bloat brags about something not done, not approved.
    Yet, in consequence, we could end up with a very nastier situation in the ME than what we have now.
    Bannon is controlled by Mercer. Neither have any interest other than to make billions more and isolate America from the world.
    Texts for reading: Barbaric Leadership 101, Feudal Systems Administration 200 and Authoritarian Ruling 300.

  8. Lynda Groom says:

    WTF is all I can say.

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