Cliff Kincaid
How Putin is using ISIS to help Iran
By Cliff Kincaid
October 4, 2014

Former world chess champion and Russian dissident Garry Kasparov tells Yahoo News that Vladimir Putin is "the most dangerous man in the world," and that he is playing poker on the world stage "while everyone else is playing chess."

In an interview with Yahoo News and Finance Anchor Bianna Golodryga, Kasparov says the war against ISIS "can be won on the ground," if the U.S. has the will to win, but that Putin is "a permanent threat" with a nuclear weapons arsenal who must be confronted as well.

Kasparov, who was born in the former USSR, is the chairman of the Human Rights Foundation and has been fighting to bring democracy to Russia.

The implication of the Kasparov interview is that the problem of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, is a diversion from Russian aggression in Ukraine and Putin's plans for further aggression. "America lacks a comprehensive strategy," said Kasparov.

A peculiar fact about ISIS adds to the perception that it is a diversion. The Islamic State, by all accounts, is based in Syria, where the group could have concentrated on overthrowing the Russian-based regime of Bashar Assad. Instead, it moved into Iraq against the government in Baghdad and started beheading Americans. Yet, because Obama has refused to commit ground troops to finish off the terror group, the U.S. is being put in the position of seeking Russian and Iranian help against ISIS.

We have previously commented on the fact that the Islamic State has a Russian-trained Islamist, Omar al-Shishani, as its chief of military operations. It is a safe assumption, as one analyst points out, that the Russian secret police agency FSB (former KGB) has infiltrated many of the cells and brigades of foreign fighters from Russia.

We hear all the time about how the Islamists supposedly hate the Russians. Yet, in this case, the Islamic State seemingly lets Assad off the hook and moves into Iraq, getting Obama's sudden attention and a mass media frenzy over where this terrorist group came from and what Obama knew about it. Quickly, Obama mobilizes for military action, with Republicans in Congress voting for training and weapons for supposedly "vetted" Syrian rebels.

Today, the U.S. and its allies are conducting air strikes against ISIS in Iraq and Syria that are already being criticized for killing civilians. Russia issues verbal protests on behalf of its client state in Syria, saying the U.S. is violating international law. But the end result is that Assad's position is strengthened.

Now we are starting to hear that the U.S. will need the cooperation of the Iranian regime in order to make sure ISIS disappears as a problem.

At the Family Security Matters website, William Hawkins notes that CNN recently featured several segments "advancing the argument that the United States should radically reorient its foreign policy in the Middle East so it could work with (rather than against) the Islamic Republic of Iran."

For example, Hawkins notes, on his influential show "GPS," that Fareed Zakaria devoted his opening remarks to "Why Iran is key to success against ISIS."

Almost on cue, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zariff says, "If we agree to do something in Iraq, the other side of the negotiations should do something in return. All the sanctions that are related to Iran's nuclear program should be lifted."

At the same time, the Kennan Institute in Washington, D.C. has planned an event, "Russia and US : is a real partnership still possible?," featuring former Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov. The Russians are proposing cooperation with the U.S to defeat ISIS that includes Iran and Assad. The Kennan Institute is a division of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

"Could IS [Islamic State] Bring Russia and the U.S. Together?" is the title over an article in the Moscow Times. There is "considerable potential for Russia and the U.S. to work together in the Middle East," the author writes.

Ivanov surfaced as a co-author, with former Clinton Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, of a 2013 article headlined "On Syria and Iran, U.S. and Russia Can Work Together." They wrote, "With a positive track record on Syria and Iran, our two countries will be in a much better position to reconcile their differences on issues such as missile defense, new steps in nuclear arms reductions, and other regional crises."

The Brookings Institution reports that the op-ed stemmed from an October 4, 2013, discussion in Washington of the Albright-Ivanov Track II dialogue hosted by Brookings President Strobe Talbott. It said, "The dialogue, launched in 2009, focuses on nuclear arms control issues but also touches on other key U.S.-Russia questions, and has produced several joint memoranda to senior U.S. and Russian leaders."

Despite the invasion of Ukraine after these discussions began, it appears that the agenda of U.S.-Russian "cooperation" is still on track, as the Kennan Institute event makes clear. The host of this October 6 event is Jill Dougherty, the former CNN Foreign Affairs Correspondent who still appears regularly on the channel. Dougherty is in charge of the Kennan Institute's project titled "Re-defining Russia: Vladimir Putin's Ideology."

The work being done by organizations such as the Wilson Center and Brookings in cooperation with the Russians is covered in the new book, Back from the Dead: The Return of the Evil Empire, under the heading of "infiltration through cooperation." Former KGB officer Konstantin Preobrazhensky, who fled Putin's Russia, talks about how Washington think tanks have been infiltrated by Russian agents who shun those who have inside knowledge of Putin's KGB-dominated government and geopolitical strategy.

Not surprisingly, Ukraine is forgotten in all of this, just as another Lenin statue in the country – this one in the Ukrainian city of Kharkov (or Kharkiv) – has been toppled. This is why Kasparov says Putin is playing poker while the rest of the world is playing chess.

It looks like another Moscow victory in the making.

We are already hearing that regardless of the situation in Ukraine, U.S.-Russian cooperation in the Middle East will have to be maintained for the sake of world peace, and that more deals have to be made.

Then, when Ukraine is forgotten, just as the Russian invasion of Georgia in 2008 was forgotten before that, Moscow will make its next move. Perhaps the Baltic states. Perhaps Poland.

Analyst Paul Goble notes that a Russian diplomat is now saying that Russia will do "everything possible" to defend its "compatriots" in the Baltic countries, the same kind of rhetoric that preceded the invasion of Ukraine.

It is significant that Ivanov, the former Russian official appearing at the Kennan Institute, is one of the leaders of the Global Zero movement to somehow eliminate nuclear weapons. This has been one of Obama's dreams since his student days at Columbia University. Obama defense secretary Chuck Hagel used to be a leader of the group. As President, Obama has declared it is "America's commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons."

Interestingly, the U.S. chair of Global Zero is Ambassador Richard Burt, who has emerged as a foreign policy adviser to Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), a likely 2016 Republican presidential candidate.

But before a true "global zero" in nuclear weapons can be achieved, a goal of "global zero" in the Middle East is certain to emerge on the agenda. That means that Iran will never agree, even on paper, to give up its nuclear weapons program as long as Israel maintains its own nuclear arsenal. Israel, of course, can't afford to trust Iran or its sponsor Russia in any such deal. So, once again, Israel will be isolated and put under tremendous international pressure to sacrifice its military security.

Ironically, Ukraine is the country where global zero has actually been achieved. It gave up its Soviet nuclear weapons after the Kremlin promised in the 1994 Budapest Memorandum to respect its territorial integrity and sovereignty. President Clinton signed the document on behalf of the United States.

Madeleine Albright was then the Permanent Representative of the United States of America to the United Nations. She, too, signed on behalf of the U.S. and later became the first female Secretary of State.

In 2012, her bio states, Albright was chosen by President Obama to receive the nation's highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, "in recognition of her contributions to international peace and democracy."

Tell that to Ukraine.

"I think we were on our way to trying to figure out how to make Russia a responsible member of the international community," Albright said on CNN, after Russia seized Crimea.

It looks like she never figured it out. And Ukraine is now paying the price.

But none of this has to get in the way of business. Albright is currently chair at the Albright Stonebridge Group, a so-called "premier strategic advisory and commercial diplomacy firm" whose Russia and Central Asia "team" includes "former Russian government officials." One of them, Yevgeny Zvedre, "advises clients on issues related to expanding market access in Russia...."

Business with Russia must go on.

Unless the U.S. gets serious about the Russian threat, Putin and the Ayatollah win, and the U.S., Israel, and the Free World lose. Checkmate.

© Cliff Kincaid


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
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