In the wake of the latest terrorist outrage in Paris, the big question is not which specific group is responsible for the attack, but who’s responsible for the Islamic State and Al Qaeda in the first place. The answer that has grown increasingly clear in recent years is that it’s Western leaders who have used growing portions of the Muslim world as a playground for their military games and are now crying crocodile tears over the consequences.
This pattern had its beginnings in the 1980s in Afghanistan, where the Central Intelligence Agency and the Saudi royal family virtually invented modern jihadism in an effort to subject the Soviets to a Vietnam-style war in their own backyard. It was the case, too, in Iraq, which the United States and Great Britain invaded in 2003, triggering a vicious civil warfare between Shi’ites and Sunnis.
Today, it’s the case in Yemen where the U. S. and France are helping Saudi Arabia in its massive air war against Houthi Shi’ites. And it’s the case in Syria, the scene of the most destructive war game of them all, where Saudi Arabia and other Arab Gulf states are channeling money and arms to Al Qaeda, the Islamic State (also known as ISIS, ISIL and Daesh), and similar forces with the full knowledge of the U. S.
Western leaders encourage this violence yet decry it in virtually the same breath. In April 2008, a Treasury official testified in a congressional hearing that ‘Saudi Arabia today remains the location from which more money is going to … Sunni terror groups and the Taliban than from any other place in the world.’ [See Rachel Ehrenfeld, ‘Their Oil Is Thicker Than Our Blood,’ in in Sarah N. Stern, ed., Saudi Arabia and the Global Islamic Terrorist Network: America and the West’s Fatal Embrace (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), p. 127.] In December 2009, Hillary Clinton noted in a confidential diplomatic memo that ‘donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide.’ In October 2014, Joe Biden told students at Harvard’s Kennedy School that ‘the Saudis, the emirates, etc. … were so determined to take down [Syrian President Bashar al-] Assad and essentially have a proxy Sunni-Shia war … [that] they poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of thousands of tons of military weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad except the people who were being supplied were Al Nusra and Al Qaeda.’
Just last month, a New York Times editorial complained that Saudis, Qataris and Kuwaitis were continuing to funnel donations not only to Al Qaeda but to Islamic State as well.
This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner on November 19, 2015.