“We know from earlier documents that after the Bush administration spoke of the new Middle East they wanted to create, they wanted to do it by creating some type of Sunni-Shia rift in the region,” an Australian expert on the Syrian conflict said.
In an interview with Shia Followers, Professor Tim Anderson said, “The masterminds behind the key terrorist groups in the Middle East have to be regarded as more criminal than the creatures they have created.”
He also said: “It’s correct to say that the U.S. is worse than Daesh because Daesh after all is simply a creature of the mastermind and we should be paying more attention to.”
Here’s the transcript of the interview:
Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has said that the U.S. is worse than Daesh (ISIS) terrorists. In what sense do you think that’s true?
Time Anderson: I think there’s a lot to be said about that because Daesh, after all, is simply a creature of the big powers that decided to politically, financially and in arms support it. The masterminds behind the key terrorist groups in the Middle East have to be regarded as more criminal than the creatures they have created.
Daesh was originally created as ISI in Iraq. We know from the history of the Bush administration that the Islamic State in Iraq, or al-Qaeda in Iraq, was created precisely to try and stop any strong relationship-building between Tehran and Baghdad. The aim was to destabilize the region by using this Wahhabi mentality – which is intolerant to any other branches of Islam or any other sort of religion – in the name of Sunni Islam. This have had devastating consequences for Iraqi people, beginning around 2006 in particular, and it later on spread to Syria. There was satisfaction expressed by U.S. intelligence that the extremists – the Muslim Brotherhood Salafi group, other Salafi groups and ISI – were leading the insurgency in Syria.
They intended to create a Salafi principality in Syria which was “exactly” what the U.S. and its allies wanted for Syria – to weaken Damascus. That’s specifically what they said. We know from earlier documents that after the Bush administration spoke of the new Middle East they wanted to create, they wanted to do it by creating some type of Sunni-Shia rift in the region. That task was principally addressed by the Saudi regime in Riyadh, and very quickly, al-Qaeda in Iraq was populated by a lot of Saudi militants. We know these things from the evidence that was found on the proportion of Saudis in al-Qaeda in Iraq, and after that, many from North Africa and other parts of the world followed.
The same thing happened in Syria of course. So I think it’s correct to say that the U.S. is worse than Daesh because Daesh after all is simply a creature of the mastermind and we should be paying more attention to.
Ayatollah Khamenei also said “the U.S. government is the cruelest and most merciless system in the world,” emphasizing that it was Washington which created Daesh in the first place. What’s your take on this?
Time Anderson: I also agree with that statement. Many people object to the idea that the U.S. is an empire, because it doesn’t really dominate in the way it is imagined it does, but it pertains to dominate other countries in a way that is totally concrete to the norms of international law and international human rights in the last seventy-five years or so. It does that under various pretexts and by being very creative and innovative in terms of language or double speak. I think we have come to expect this from a country which based its constitution and its political values on the idea of individual freedom and liberty while maintaining the slave culture in human history.
Four million slaves were at the root of U.S. society and U.S. economy in the eighteenth century and most of the nineteenth century. The racial problems in the U.S. are a direct consequence of that because a form of what is said new slavery – deeply racialized systems – existed for another century after slavery was supposedly abolished.
Empires which deny the rights of self-determination to other countries, deny the democracies and deny the indigenous social structures, are the worst human rights violators in the history and of course the U.S. represents the principal would-be empire in the current age.
I think it’s correct to say that the U.S. is worse than Daesh, worse than al-Nusra, worse than other terrorist groups and worse than the other dependent colonial states in the world and there are some of them that rest under the umbrella of the United States.
What forces and factors led to the creation of Daesh? How has this terror outfit tarnished the image of Islam?
Time Anderson: I mentioned that the strategic initiative of the Bush administration was to try and dominate the entire western Asian region and the North African region. Daesh was a tool to do that, a tool to try and destabilize and destroy the remaining independent states in that region, namely Libya, Syria, and Iran of course. Iran has always been in the crosshairs precisely because it is the major independent nation in that region and it reclaimed its independence from a U.S. dominated puppet monarchy that was installed by the U.S. and backed by the British and the French for generations.
I’ve said more than once that Daesh and al-Qaeda have destroyed the image of Islam in the world. Maybe that was strong, but if you think about the non-Islamic world and the Western world in particular, the impact through the media of the proxy wars carried out by these organizations created principally by the masterminds in Washington has had a deep impact on popular psychology.
People are systematically de-educated by a range of institutions including the popular media. They do have now the prejudice against Islam because of the activities of Daesh, even though Daesh represents a miniscule fraction of followers of Islam.
So it’s in many respect a great innovation in an evil sense, an innovation in modern propaganda that Washington and its allies have managed to have this type of impact. The people now see Muslim culture as identified with this vile terrorism which has been driven, financed and armed precisely by the U.S., Britain and France, which make use of some of the regional proxies such as Israel, Saudi Arabia, also in more recent times Qatar, some of the other [Persian] Gulf monarchies and Turkey. So it has a very deep impact on Islam and I think that’s a cultural damage that requires re-education, or long term education.
Secretary General of Hezbollah Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah has also said that the U.S. kept part of Daesh for its next wave of aggressions against Syria. What could you say about this?
Time Anderson: The Popular Mobilization Units (Hashd alShabi) and the Syrian coalition managed to destroy Daesh in Syria, but as they were doing it, the U.S. did the same thing it had done in Iraq and evacuated Daesh leaders when they were facing defeat. There’s significant evidence that they did exactly the same thing down the Euphrates in southeast Syria and they’ve been doing something similar in more recent times in northeast Syria.
The experienced fighters are most valuable to the U.S. They don’t care of course about the ordinary mercenaries that get wiped out any more than they care about the civilians in Iraq and Syria that they’ve been slaughtering for many years. They only want to hang onto their assets, in terms of experienced commanders, because of that sort of experience of years of battle is very useful for creating some sort of terrorist army.
I think Sayyed Hassan Nasrullah is correct also to say that the U.S. has been reformulating the groups of its proxy armies and rebadging Daesh terrorists into the new proxy armies, comprising of terrorist groups which effectively use the Wahhabi ideology. They get their weapons from the big powers and they’ve become useful but expendable tools.
Tim Anderson has degrees in economics and international politics, and a doctorate on the political economy of economic liberalisation in Australia. His current research interests relate to (i) Development strategy and rights in development, (ii) Melanesian land and livelihoods, and (iii) Economic Integration in Latin America. He is a Senior Lecturer in Political Economy at the University of Sydney. He has studied the Syrian conflict since 2011.