The concept that humanity is teetering on the edge of third world war is no longer the domain of the lunatic fringe.
Those of you who have been paying attention know that in reality, the war is already underway. In this video we're going examine the profiles of the key players and the alliances they've formed, expose their motives, and present evidence of crimes that they've already committed. All of our sources will be linked below.
Iran, for its part, has troops on the ground.
For the time being, China is more preoccupied with the ongoing tensions in the South China Sea, and has not flexed its muscles in Syria as of yet. However, they should always be considered a wildcard variable.
The current Iraqi government is also a wildcard. In 2015 they began to indicate where their loyalties lay in several meaningful ways. For example they told the U.S. government that new ground operations were not welcome, while at the same time announcing that they intend to look to Russia for military assistance.
The list of countries pushing for regime change in Syria is a bit longer: The United States, France, England, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar, Turkey and Israel. If seeing these characters in bed together strikes you as strange, looking at their motives will clarify things considerably.
There isn't just one motive for this bloodbath. Rather there is a matrix of motives which intersect in some rather odd places.
Of course money had to play a role.
In 2009, Qatar put forth a proposal to build a natural gas pipeline which would have passed through Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, to Turkey and into Europe. The president of Syria, however rejected this proposal. Instead, in 2011 he forged a pact with Iraq and Iran to run a pipeline eastward cutting Qatar and Saudi Arabia out of the loop completely.
It was around this time that jihadists began flooding into the region intent on ousting Assad. The West presented these groups as freedom fighters.
The vast majority of these militants (ISIS included) are Sunni jihadists, which is significant, because Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and Jordan are all Sunni as well.
And Saudi Arabia in particular has a long history of spreading their preferred strain of sunni extremism (Wahhabism) by investing heavily in building mosques, madrasas, schools, and Sunni cultural centers across the Muslim world. Now they have ISIS pushing it by the barrel of a gun (ISIS adheres to the Wahhabi form of Sunni Islam).
ISIS is not merely some dark aberration. Wahhabism as a philosophy calls for its adherents to take the reigns of power by force, and to impose sharia law. Wahhabism also encourages its followers to persecute Shia muslims, which they consider apostates. And of course apostasy is punishable by death.
Iran is Shia. The current government in Iraq is Shia, and has strong ties with Iran. The pipeline deal which Assad accepted would strengthen this Shia block, and its regional influence. The Sunnis don't like this, in fact they've even coined a term to describe it: The Shia Crescent.
Israel also doesn't like this "Shia Crescent", at all, and they have decided to work with the Sunnis to form a parallel block to counter balance Iran's influence.
That's why Israel has launched numerous airstrikes against the Syrian government over the years (see here, here, and here), and has provided medical care, logistical support and safe passage to known jihadists.
In 2013 Israel's ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren, told The Jerusalem Post that "The initial message about the Syrian issue was that we always wanted [President] Bashar Assad to go, we always preferred the bad guys who weren’t backed by Iran to the bad guys who were backed by Iran," he said.
This was the case, he said, even if the other "bad guys" were affiliated to al-Qaida.
Let that sink in for a moment.
Now at this point if you were to ask any of these governments directly why they are arming and funding jihadists in Syria they would would claim that they are only supporting the "moderate rebels", specifically the FSA. However, FSA commanders have gone on record to say that they cooperate with, and conduct joint operations with Al-Nusra (Al-Qaeda's official branch in Syria), and ISIS and Al-Nusra have officially formed alliances, , and it is well established that the FSA command has been dominated by Islamic extremists for years.
Furthermore, a think tank that was founded by Tony Blair, released a report in 2015 which concluded that it was pointless to attempt to make a distinction between moderate rebels and jihadists, since the majority of these groups share ISIS's core belief system, and would impose sharia law if they came into power.
In this context, the support being given to these groups can only be interpreted as material support for terrorism, which is a crime.
Now the U.S. government has been arming, funding and training these extremist both covertly and overtly since 2011. However this support would have been impossible without the assistance of the regional members of the anti-Assad axis.
For years Jordan has allowed the CIA to run training camps for militant groups and has granted those militants safe passage into Syria.
Qatar has also provided training grounds. In 2014 PBS visited one of these training camps and interviewed some of the trainees. One of the fighters told the reporters that they were being trained "how to finish off soldiers still alive after an ambush."
Finishing off wounded soldiers is a clear violation of the Geneva conventions. It's a warcrime. This is a hallmark of a terrorist organization, not moderate freedom fighters.
Turkey, has been the primary route for material and personnel headed in and out of jihadist territory for many years. A blatant example of this was 400 tons of weapons that were looted from Gaddafi's armories, shipped to Turkey and then moved into Syria in 2012. At this stage they weren't even trying to hide it, even though it was already clear that jihadists were receiving the lion's share of the weapons.
Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Qatar also have assisted in the transfer of heavy weapons directly to Al-Nusra by flying hundreds of cargo flights into Syria.
And then there's the infamous Toyota trucks which ISIS drives. U.S. counter-terrorism officials made a show of investigating where they were getting these trucks, but it would have been much simpler if they had just called up the U.S. State Department. According to the PRI, the U.S. State Department has been supplying Toyota Hiluxes (the exact model being used by ISIS) to the FSA for years.
"Specific equipment like the Toyota Hiluxes are what we refer to as force enablers for the moderate opposition forces on the ground," he adds. Shahbander says the US-supplied pickups will be delivering troops and supplies into battle. Some of the fleet will even become battlefield weapons.
"You can absolutely expect for many of those trucks to be mounted with crew-served machine guns or other type of equipment, military equipment, that the opposition forces have access to. I mean, that's one of the reasons why the Toyota Hilux is such an important force multiplier, because it could be used both for humanitarian purposes and for operational purposes as well."
Knowing the real chain of alliances between these groups it makes perfect sense that ISIS would end up behind the wheel.
And let's not forget about the oil. At this stage ISIS has reached a point where it no longer needs direct sponsorship. The organization earns an estimated $1 million to $2 million dollars a day through oil sales. The U.S. was aware of this but did nothing to stop it. They didn't even condemn the country which was facilitating the sale of this oil.
Russia, on the other hand, began targeting oil convoys headed into Turkey in November of 2015. Shortly thereafter Turkey shot down a Russian Su-24 that supposedly violated Turkish airspace for 17 seconds. In response Russia released satellite evidence that they claim shows how Turkey is smuggling oil from ISIS. The U.S. government dismissed this evidence, but didn't counter it with any evidence of their own.
So where is the oil going? We're supposed to just put that little detail out of our minds.
They knew, but they did nothing. Why?
Right, and I suppose we didn't call out Turkey for buying the oil because we didn't want to hurt Erdogan's feelings.
Clearly it is not in the interest of the anti-Assad axis to eliminate ISIS. The United States and France are keen to make a show of airstrikes and special forces, but what they really want is the ability to operate in Syria militarily. This is the only way they'll have any chance of influencing the outcome.
Trouble is, Russia is dug in. Unlike the United States and France, they have permission to operate in the country, and this has allowed them to set up bases, and a strong anti-aircraft defense grid which at any point could be used to enforce a no-fly zone.
It's important to remember the real stakes in this conflict. The West is in a state of decline. Their influence is waning. If the U.S. and their allies fail to remove Assad from power what they will be faced with is more than just a strong Shia crescent. If they fail, they risk being edged out of the entire region, and replaced by Russia. This would give Russia an enormous amount of leverage in global energy markets, and this of course has serious implications for the petrodollar. For Washington this is an unacceptable outcome, so expect the unexpected.