According to The Independent's Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk, there is only one clear winner in the new war that has now engulfed Syria and Iraq: the world's top weapons manufacturers.
As latest U.S. airstrikes hit targets inside Syria on Sunday, Fisk wrote, "Share prices are soaring in America for those who produce the coalition bombs and missiles and drones and aircraft participating in this latest war which – for all who are involved (except for the recipients of the bombs and missiles and those they are fighting) – is Hollywood from start to finish."
"The war against Isis is breeding Isis. For every dead Isis member, we are creating three of four more. And if Isis really is the “apocalyptic”, “evil”, “end-of-the-world” institution we have been told it is... then every increase in profits for Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics is creating yet more Isis fighters."
—Robert Fisk, The IndependentIn addition to new bombings by U.S. warplanes, and despite public objections by Turkey's government, the U.S. military over the last twenty-four hours has air-dropped machine guns, anti-tank weapons, ammunition, food, and medical supplies to Kurdish fighters inside the Syrian city of Kobani as they continue to fight off an assault by Islamic State (or ISIS) militants.
According to CNN:
The move was partly humanitarian but also aimed at shoring up the Kurdish defenders of Kobani, senior Obama administration officials said -- acknowledging it was a shift in the administration's tactics to date.
"This is a part of the President's larger strategy to degrade and destroy ISIL wherever they are," one official said.
The gear was delivered by three C-130 cargo planes and appeared to have been received on the ground by Kurdish fighters, senior Obama administration officials.
There have been reports that ISIS may have anti-aircraft missiles, but the officials said they had no evidence to back those reports and that the cargo planes flew in unescorted.
Though Kurds in both Turkey and Iraq have been pleading for Turkey to assist those in Kobani, the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been consistently opposed, repeating that it views the mostly autonomos Kurdish population in that region of Syria as members or allies of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which—despite a cease-fire agreement and ongoing peace process—it views as an enemy.
That may have changed, however, in the aftermath of the U.S. airdrops. As the New York Times reports Monday morning:
Hours after American military aircraft dropped ammunition and small arms to resupply Kurdish fighters in the embattled Syrian town of Kobani, Turkey’s foreign minister said Monday that the country would facilitate the movement of Iraqi Kurdish forces, known as pesh merga, to the city to join the fighting.
The Turkish foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, speaking at a news conference in Ankara, said that his government was “helping the pesh merga cross over to Kobani,” an apparent shift from Turkey’s previous refusal to allow any military assistance to Kurdish fighters in the town.
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The developments reflected escalating international pressure to help Kurdish forces push back Islamic State militants who have been attacking the Kurdish town for more than a month. The battle has become a closely watched test for the Obama administration as it embarks on a war reliant on air power against the militant group in Iraq and Syria. It has also raised tensions across the border in Turkey, where Kurds have accused the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of abandoning the city to the militants.
Critics of both the overall U.S. strategy in the region have pointed out how the fight in Kobani highlights the inherent complexities of the new war in Syria and Iraq that is setting the stage for a much wider, longer and unpredictable conflict. But according to Fisk, what is really sinister about the current campaign by the U.S. and their allies is the manner in which the profits of the weapon-makers soar, as the region and its people continue to suffer. Quoted at length, Fisk writes:
When the Americans decided to extend their bombing into Syria in September – to attack President Assad’s enemies scarcely a year after they first proposed to bomb President Assad himself – Raytheon was awarded a $251m (£156m) contract to supply the US navy with more Tomahawk cruise missiles. Agence France-Presse, which does the job that Reuters used to do when it was a real news agency, informed us that on 23 September, American warships fired 47 Tomahawk missiles. Each one costs about $1.4m. And if we spent as promiscuously on Ebola cures, believe me, there would be no more Ebola.
Let us leave out here the political cost of this conflict. After all, the war against Isis is breeding Isis. For every dead Isis member, we are creating three of four more. And if Isis really is the “apocalyptic”, “evil”, “end-of-the-world” institution we have been told it is – my words come from the Pentagon and our politicians, of course – then every increase in profits for Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics is creating yet more Isis fighters. So every drone or F/A-18 fighter-bomber we send is the carrier of a virus, every missile an Ebola germ for the future of the world. Think about that.
Let me give you a real-time quotation from reporter Dan De Luce’s dispatch on arms sales for the French news agency. “The war promises to generate more business not just from US government contracts but other countries in a growing coalition, including European and Arab states… Apart from fighter jets, the air campaign [sic] is expected to boost the appetite for aerial refuelling tankers, surveillance aircraft such as the U-2 and P-8 spy planes, and robotic [sic again, folks] drones… Private security contractors, which profited heavily from the US presence in Iraq and Afghanistan, also are optimistic the conflict will produce new contracts to advise Iraqi troops.”
This is obviously outrageous. The same murderous bunch of gunmen we sent to Iraq are going to be let loose to teach our “allies” in Syria – “moderate” secular militias, of course – the same vicious tactics they used against civilians in Iraq. And the same missiles are going to be used – at huge profit, naturally – on the peoples of the Middle East, Isis or not. Which is why De Luce’s report is perhaps the most important of the whole war in the region.