Saturday, October 4, 2014

‘Biden tries to distance US from the mess in the Mideast’

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden. (Reuters/Jim Young)
RT | Oct 3, 2014 | Annie Machon

Vice President Joe Biden, by blaming Washington’s allies for the spread of IS in Iraq and Syria, attempted to distance the US from the mess that is emerging in the Middle East, former MI5 agent Annie Machon told RT.

Addressing students at the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum at the Institute of Politics at Harvard University, Joe Biden accused Turkey and the Gulf States of being unscrupulous in their pursuit of ousting President Assad and, in doing so, funding terrorists for the cause.

RT: Why do you think Joe Biden's chosen to turn on his allies now?

Annie Machon: I think there is very much an element of trying to distance America from the mess that is emerging in the Middle East. I’m astonished in fact that he actually told the truth about what some of its allied countries are doing in the Middle East. But of what I’m more astonished is of his apparent amnesia about what America and Britain were trying to ferment in Syria only a year ago. They were not only putting staff intelligence personnel on the ground, and providing logistical support to the rebels in Syria; they were spearheading the campaign to try to oust Assad. Assad was one of the few remaining dictators from the regional “axis of evil.”

They’ve already got rid of Gaddafi and Hussein, they’ve backed off Iran and they certainly backed off North Korea now they have nukes. But Assad seemed to be fair game, and was a sitting duck as well because Russia at that time was trying to build a new energy pipeline which would go through Syria and provide the Russians with the Mediterranean base to get the energy from Iran through to Europe.So it was very much in America’s and Britain’s interest to try to destabilize Syria by trying to take out Assad and by providing support to these rebel groups many of whom then did evolve into these more extremist groups.

Only last year our governments were still talking about aiding these groups, even Al-Nusra which has been taken over by Al-Qaeda extremists, which were frightening even for some of the regional Al-Qaeda people. They were desperate to get rid of Assad in order to thwart Russian interests in that region.

An Islamic State militant (L) stands next to residents
as they hold pieces of wreckage from a Syrian war
plane after it crashed in Raqqa, in northeast
Syria September 16, 2014. (Reuters/Stringer)
RT: How do you think Joe Biden's swipe at America's allies will affect relations with them?

AM: A very good question. It’s interesting that he has raised the fact that Saudi Arabia is involved in funding some of these groups. But I think America is really taking a risk here because they are such key allies in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia, for them to attack them and to try to undermine credibility of what Saudi Arabia has been doing in the region, not just in the region but by funding Wahhabi schools across Europe and across America as well to spread this radical version of Islam, it’s quite frankly astonishing.

RT: The US Vice President also said "there's no moderate middle" among Syria's fighters but America still insists on funding and arming the rebels. Is this a recognition, or signs of an emerging split in the White House?

AM: Perhaps, the Vice President is finally learning some lessons from history. It does not matter who you think your friends are going to be in the region. Very often they will be taken over or subsumed into a more radical group. And we have seen this time and time again. This is what keeps creating these new threats across the Middle East. So perhaps there is a split and perhaps he is from the more moderate fraction as opposed to the neo-con hawks that Obama has sought to appease over so many years with only different interventions across the Middle East.

RT: US intelligence is among the most powerful in the world. How is it possible that they overlooked their allies funding jihadists? President Obama has also blamed the intelligence services for failing to notice the emerging danger of ISIS. He's been Commander-in-Chief for nearly six years. Is it entirely their fault?

AM: Well, he seems to drop the ball regularly. I mean they didn’t pick up only so-called hijackers before the 9/11 attacks either. They didn’t seem to have a very good feel for what was going on in Libya when they were in the process of toppling Colonel Gaddafi, and in the immediate aftermath when the Embassy got shot at. So this shows us a systemic failure of the intelligence that the US government is getting. And I would put that down partly to the overreliance on dragnet and electronic surveillance where it is very easy to miss all the needles in the haystack. What they should go back to perhaps is more targeted human intelligence sources on the ground that could really tell them what it’s like on the ground, and they can provide proper warnings to the people who need to make a policy about what they are doing in the Middle East.

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