Explaining new US counterterrorism strategy

Alwaght – The US has unveiled a new counterterrorism strategy, describing the way the administration of President Donald Trump will counter the so-called terror threats inside and outside of the country. The National Security Advisor John Bolton in a press conference explained the “national counterterrorism strategy” on Thursday.

Since 2011, this is the first time that the US raises a new strategy on fighting terrorism. In a plan unveiled by President Barack Obama in 2011, the focus was on fighting al-Qaeda terrorist group. But the new strategy by Trump suggests that it wants to focus on threats posed by what the administration calls the radical Islamism.

However, a major part of Trump’s strategy appears to be a continuation of the Obama approach on terrorism, including the focus on cutting the terror funding sources and also attempting to prevent the terrorist organizations’ access to the chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons.

But bringing the new strategy in the spotlight makes a policy paradox clear: While during his presidential campaign speeches Trump blasted the costly wars of the US under the excuse of the fight against terrorism in West Asia region, now he insists that the war on the terrorists should continue. This contradiction of policy can be understood if we have a picture of the Trump’s objectives behind redefining the counterterrorism fight.

Terrorism as a tool to justify controversial home policies

With the assumption of office by Trump at the White House, as a neoconservative and populist figure, the American society was exposed to an array of controversial policies in the political, economic, and social area. Examples of these policies are the ban on the entry to the US of nationals of some of the Muslim countries, insistence on building the border wall with Mexico, and deportation of the undocumented migrants.

One the one hand Trump puts “America first” in his policies and strictly protects the borders and ports and on the other hand insists that they are a nation at war abroad, a war on what they call radical Islamist terrorism. These all serve an aim to justify the anti-Islamic policies firstly and the anti-migration policies secondly.

Obama held the idea that the counterterrorism strategy should not embroil the US in an unending war. The previous president also avoided using the “Islamic terrorism” term because he feared that will alienate and antagonize the Muslims of the US. But the new strategy by Trump marks his loyalty and commitment to the rightist supporters, who backed him in the 2016 presidential race.

Forward escape strategy

Another goal behind the new counterterrorism strategy is to justify the US interventionist policies in West Asia, especially after the defeat of the ISIS terrorist group in its bastions Iraq and Syria. The Western military redeployment to the region after the emergence of ISIS in 2014, in the eyes of many analysts, served as a coin bearing on the one side the Western interests and on the other side a help to intensify terror threat.

According to the new strategy, Trump administration continues military action against ISIS which is a legacy of his predecessor. This requires the stay of the US forces in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, West Africa, and elsewhere. At the time being, in addition to the massive military presence in Afghanistan, Washington has some 2,000 troops in Syria, arguing that they are needed to continue the fight against ISIS.

This comes while after the announcement of ISIS defeat by the alliance of Iran-led Axis of Resistance— comprised of Iran, Hezbollah, Syria, and Iraq— plus Russia last year, the remnants of the terrorist group continued safe life in the areas controlled by the US-allied local forces. Furthermore, Russia repeatedly presented documents showing the US is providing a shield to ISIS fighters, directly or indirectly, in Syria and Iraq.

The US pro-terror activities began to cause worries among Iran, Russia, China, and Pakistan which over the past few months held a string of joint conferences and exchanged military and diplomatic visits to confront an American project of ISIS transfer from Syria to the Central and South Asia, close to the borders of the four countries. So, the new counterterrorism roadmap, while the pressures are increasingly mounting on the White House for its presence in Syria and Iraq, is deemed as a forward escape by Trump.

US war hawks confront key regional counter-terror forces

The counterterrorism doctrine successfully solved the post-Soviet US foreign policy uncertainty crisis. Clinging to the newly-adopted policy, the neoconservatives waged wars in various parts of the world, particularly in West Asia, in a bid to strengthen the US-surmounted unipolar global system. Some regional countries, mainly the Resistance camp, put the mockers on Washington project. The US now presses towards removing the Resistance obstacle to quench its thirst for energy resources of the regional nations.

Such a need required Trump administration to throw the now-old al-Qaeda and other US-nurtured terrorist groups off the center of its focus and advertise new elements, mainly the members of the Resistance front, as the new targets. The US seeks to reverse the defeats of its past years’ strategy in the region using sanctions on the key anti-terror regional parties under the ruse of their support for terrorism.

Bolton’s elaboration on the new strategy proves this. He told the reporters that there is a terrorist ideology that the US is facing and without knowing it, Washington cannot accurately respond to the terrorist threats. He also called Iran the “world’s central banker of international terrorism since 1979”, adding that the Tehran-backed resistant groups such as Lebanese Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Islamic Jihad of Palestine “continue to pose a threat to the United States and our interests.”

Apparent enough, in the new reading of terrorism, the Axis of Resistance, as a leading force with huge sacrifices in the battle against terrorism across the region, gets no credit for commendation. Rather, the scale is the compliance with the US and the Israeli regime’s interests. A report published on September 24 by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a UN group tracking funding for terrorism, referred to the Saudi Arabia, a key US ally, as the main ideological and financial source of terrorism.

Now the global public and non-Western governments know this truth. So, the White House, unlike the early years of the 2000s, will have a big problem persuading them to believe and support the new ruse for counterterrorism fight continuation.