Withdrawing the Patriots again—so what have we achieved?

This article is a translation of "De Patriots terug—en wat hebben we bereikt?"

Deployment of Patriot missiles in Turkey for OorlogIsGeenOplossing.nl was the reason to stage a picket in front of the Hague ministry of defence in February 2013. They may now be withdrawn before the end of the year; there will be a NATO summit in Wales in September which can take that decision. 
For 2013 alone our ministry estimated the costs of this operation at 42 million euros, not counting the use of PAC-3 missiles—and they have not been used. Nobody expected that, because it was always obvious that the odd misfired mortar round over the Syrian border was not going to be responded to by anti-missile rockets of 1.5 million euros each. We went there, according to authoritative sources, to put the Netherlands ‘back on the map’. 

According to Der Spiegel the Patriots will be withdrawn by NATO (at the end of this year, and how many millions on—two times 42 million?) because the threat posed by Assad’s chemical weapons has been removed. As if the likelihood that Syria’s government army, reduced to some 100,000 men and tied up hand and feet within the country, would ever use illegal arms against ten-times-more-powerful Turkey has ever existed. The real reason was, just as in previous Patriot deployments during the first Gulf War of ’91 and the invasion of Iraq in 2003, to cover an American or NATO intervention; this time the intervention has been called off, so the Patriots can come back.

To the public here, any fancy tale can be peddled—when deployment had been decided the media came up with human interest stories about the charming female subaltern officer in charge of a battery, who would nevertheless ‘push the button if necessary’, etc. And of course, the mission would ‘put us on the map’. According to the director of Clingendael strategy institute and one-time investigative journalist, Ko Colijn, ‘there [was] hardly any choice for the Netherlands. In a period of widespread concern that a shrinking military is reducing our influence in the world, the Patriot should not be missed as an opportunity to prove the opposite’, he stated in December 2012.

On top of the intervention that did not happen, and still according to Der Spiegel, there was another reason to prevent Germany or the Netherlands from sustaining the expensive farce: there are too few qualified personnel to fire the missiles. Even so, in a period of relentless austerity, we spent around 80 million Euros on this mission.

So what have we achieved in the meantime? 

The Anglo-American invasion of Iraq (with the fiat of the Dutch government) and Western support for the uprising against the Assad regime in Syria (again with The Hague’s express approval) has led to the de facto break-up of these two countries. That is what American-British, NATO and/or EU involvement in the Middle East and the Islamic world, and hence the Patriots with which the Netherlands ‘put itself on the map again’, has brought us.

Whilst the Kurds in the north have effectively established their own state (this holds especially for the Iraqi Kurds, who since a week or two have begun to export oil independently through Turkey), at the heart of the region ISIL, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, has been created (marked in red). There you have ‘the map’ on which we put ourselves again! 

Finally the enemy which we have been looking for ever since the end of the Cold War, has become a territorial reality—even if we will probably not succeed in wriggling out of the knot into which we have become entangled at the same time. Because as things stand, who is supporting whom?

Obama and Cameron have endlessly repeated that Assad must go; yet now they have announced air raids against ISIL. The jihadists of ISIL at the same time are amassing armed Humvees and other modern equipment captured around Mosul and originally been by the US to Iraq, to bolster their positions in the struggle over Aleppo. They have not come that far yet because they are still tied up in fighting with units of the Free Syrian Army at Azaz on the Syrian border. But then the US are also considering directly arming those commanders of the FSA that are doing well in the field, etc.

Now in practice, the arms end up with the groups in control of border posts. There they can demand a share of the weaponry being smuggled in by other groups. In addition to controlling all Syrian-Iraqi border posts bar one, ISIL also controls the one Iraqi-Jordanian border post. Once they conquer more Syrian-Turkish posts, their power and the ransom they take from contraband arms can only increase. 

ISIL strives for a new Caliphate (which was last held by the Ottoman Sultan and was abolished by Atatürk in 1924) and has well surpassed al-Qaeda/al-Nusra in size. It also turns out to exert a much greater force of attraction on young Muslims who feel displaced in Europe. According to Agence France-Presse ‘the Netherlands are worried’ about this jihad—there would already be some 100 fighters from the Netherlands in Syria, of whom 10 are thought to have perished, and now a new flow is imminent. But—weren’t we in favour of regime change in Iraq and Syria (and Libya, and Egypt…)? So why worry?

In fact there is every reason to. The terror attack on the Jewish Museum in Brussels, in which a volunteer for Syria who had returned to France fired his Kalashnikov at visitors, is a reminder that jihad tourism will not remain without consequences, certainly not in Europe. In this respect we must fear for the security of our fellow citizens of Jewish background, who are being held responsible for Israeli policy in the Middle East—irrespective of whether they feel ‘Jewish’ at all, or adopt a Zionist standpoint or not. Of course Israel greatly encourages this equation.

Here too the question is, who is actually supporting whom. Because Israel by its attacks on the Syrian government army does all it can to reinforce the positions of ISIL and other rebel groups. Yesterday, 23 June, ten Syrian soldiers were killed again in Israeli air raids, tanks and artillery destroyed. All this to revenge the death of an Israeli youngster driving a car, killed by what looks like a stray projectile. The Syrian army has denied responsibility; the anti-tank missile that hit the car is of a type the Americans have supplied to the insurrection.

So Israel supports radical Islam (also by its terror against the Palestinians), America provides arms to the uprising against Assad but also intends to attack ISIL. The Netherlands is favour of everything, but also ‘worries’. Under such conditions it is perhaps best to withdraw the Patriots.

Kees van der Pijl

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