05:33 GMT26 October 2020
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    At a Wednesday meeting of the Senate Armed Services Committee, US General Paul Selva told lawmakers that despite America’s military capacity to establish a no-fly zone in Syria, the country may not really want to do so in order to avoid possible blowback from Russia and the Syrian government.

    Committee Chairman Senator John McCain criticized General Paul Selva's explanation, claiming it was “one of the most embarrassing statements he’s ever heard from a uniformed military officer.”

    Former US diplomat and adviser to the US Senate Republican leadership Jim Jatras called the episode “another snapshot of how utterly confused “America’s policy in the Middle East is.

    “We keep hearing ‘Daesh is our main enemy’. But obviously a no-fly zone has no relevance with respect to Daesh.”  Jatras told Radio Sputnik. “It can only be relevant with respect to overthrowing the Syrian government and confronting Russia there, and of course they are fighting against Daesh. So what is it that we’re trying to achieve there? They don’t clearly know, it seems, except maybe to fight everybody all the time.”

    According to the former adviser, everything indicates America is only creating the illusion that it is fighting Daesh rather than taking real action that would have a significant impact.

    “Why did we only start hitting the oil tanker trucks after the Russians showed the evidence of them going into Turkey and started hitting them themselves? We could have been doing that months and months ago, but we didn’t do it. Why? Because we really didn’t want to hurt Daesh that badly.” 

    The US doesn’t regard Daesh as an existential threat that has to be eliminated but wants to use it as a pressure point, leverage against the Iranian zone on one side and against the Assad government on the other side, Jatras assumed.

    “It just shows there is no coherence between what we are trying to achieve and how we are trying to achieve it,” he said.

    There’s no chance of achieving anything that “makes any sense”, the former diplomat argued, until the US stops taking its lead from so-called regional partners like Turkey or Saudi Arabia, that are clearly “on Daesh’s side, on the side of the jihad terrorists”.  He added that since the shoot down of the Russian Su-24 jet, more and more American citizens tend to question why the US is allied with Turkey in the first place. Recently a petition has been launched on the White House website calling on Washington to ask NATO to cut ties with Turkey.

    According to Jatras, America's default policy in the Middle East has been to serve as an air force for “shady characters”.

    “We’ve been following this kind of shady relationship with Sunni terrorist groups inspired by the Wahhabist ideology and money from Saudi Arabia ever since the Afghan war against the Soviet Union. We did it in Bosnia, we did it in Kosovo, we did it in Libya, and now we are doing it in Syria”, he claimed.

    Regarding the possibility of creating a broader anti-terrorist coalition that would include Russia, the former adviser said Moscow could be Washington’s primary partner if only US realized it is “no longer in the position to dictate the political arrangements of other countries” and stopped extending its sphere of influence “over the entire globe”.


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