Washington’s Syria Policy: A Repeat of Afghanistan?

As the United States and Saudi Arabia work on covert operations to oust the Syrian regime, there is a severe risk of dragging Turkey into the conflict.

al-monitor An Afghan man walks among old Soviet armored vehicles in Kabul, Nov. 19, 2012. Photo by REUTERS/Mohammad Ismail.

Topics covered

al-qaeda, us, syrian, saudi, russian, obama, chechen jihadists, afghanistan

Aug 6, 2013

The Soviet Union occupied Afghanistan in December 1979. At the time, Jimmy Carter was in the White House and his chief national security adviser was Zbigniew Brzezinsky. Eyes turned to Washington. The United States did not intervene militarily, but transformed Pakistan into a war-front country. It organized Muslim mujahedeen resistance against the Soviet invasion with oil dollars flowing from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The plan was to make the Soviet army bleed, without directly clashing with it. The plan succeeded and the Soviets had to withdraw in 1989.

Saudi-American action plan

The Saudi-American plan that was productive in Afghanistan envisioned expanding the Afghanistan resistance to the Soviets’ Chechnya-Ingushetia region and hitting the Soviet forces in their own territory. The mastermind of the plan was Alexander Bennigsen, an American political scientist who was born in St. Petersburg in 1913. Bennigsen was an expert on Muslim communities in the Soviet Union. He died in 1988 without seeing the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan.

His successors, however, were able to witness the Chechnya war that broke out in 1994. This was followed by a second Chechen war from 1999-2009.

The war was ended by Russia’s then-Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, trained by the KGB that advocated massacre-laden military intervention in Chechnya. But even he could not fully control the Wahhabi-Saudi-backed resistance in the northern Caucasus.

The Chechen war was planned during the Afghanistan war and still continues.

A strange visit to Moscow …

President Putin had an interesting visitor last Wednesday [July 31]: Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan. He is the head of Saudi intelligence and the National Security Council. He was also his country’s ambassador to Washington for 22 years. The CIA calls Prince Bandar “our man in Riyadh.” He is the one seeking, in meetings he organizes in Washington and Tel Aviv, ways to increase military support to Salafist-jihadist groups in Syria. He is the covert war expert who infiltrated al-Qaeda-linked foreign fighters into Syria. He is an important figure that organized the mujahedeen in Afghanistan in 1980s with his stepbrother Prince Turki bin Faisal Al Saud, then the head of Saudi intelligence. It is reported that his meeting with Putin was primarily focused on Syria.

Sochi blackmail?

Reports say their meeting covered Russia reducing its support of Assad in return for safeguarding Russian rights in Syria in the new regime to be set up, and leaving the control of Syria’s central and northern regions to radical groups backed by the Saudis. It appears that in return the prince has guaranteed to prevent Chechen attacks during the winter Olympics the Russians are planning to host [in 2014] at Sochi on the Black Sea. Sochi is the land of the Circassian genocide. That is why resistance outfits in the region — above all the Chechens — are opposed to the Olympics being held in that city.

Chechen-Kurdish war?

Obama’s plan is obvious: Follow Carter’s footsteps in Afghanistan. Pull out the Pentagon. He is trying to get rid of Assad with covert operations conducted by the CIA in cooperation with the Saudis, hence the transfer of Saudi-backed fighting groups from Caucasia to Syria. Unfortunately, Turkey is facing a Chechen-Kurdish war on its border.

Without a doubt, the American-Saudi plan is dragging Turkey into the position Pakistan found itself during the Afghan war.

The way to stop this is for Turkey to support to Syria’s indigenous Kurdish people without paying attention to their affiliation with the PKK. If Turkey allows a “radical legionnaire group” to have a say in Syria, it will face serious problems with the Kurdish identity in Turkey and in the entire Kurdish geography of the Middle East.

We cannot allow a new Afghanistan to emerge on our border. We are facing a disastrous plan; yet Turks and Kurds can jointly defeat this plan.

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