Cross-posted from Asia Times
US fires Tomahawk missiles
(Image by U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/U.S. Fifth Fleet) Permission Details DMCA
It's all so surgical. All targets -- from "suspected" weapons depots to the mayor's mansion in Raqqah (the HQ of The Caliph's goons) and assorted checkpoints -- were duly obliterated, along with "dozens of," perhaps 120, jihadis.
Aseptic newspeak aside, no one has seen or heard a mighty Gulf Cooperation Council air force deployed to bomb Syria. After all the vassals are scared as hell to tell their own populations they are -- once again -- bombing a fellow Arab nation. As for Damascus, it meekly said it was "notified" by the Pentagon its own territory would be bombed. Nobody really knows what the Pentagon is exactly telling Damascus.
The Pentagon calls it just the beginning of a "sustained campaign" -- code for Long War, which is one of the original denominations of the Global War on Terror (GWOT) anyway. And yes, for all practical purposes this is a coalition of one. Let's call it Operation Tomahawk The Caliph.
Hold your F-22s. Not really. The tomahawking had barely begun when an Israeli, made in USA Patriot missile shot a Syrian Su-24 which had allegedly "violated" Israeli air space over the Golan Heights. How about that in terms of sending a graphic message in close coordination with the Pentagon?
So this is not only about bombing The Caliph. It is a back-door preamble to bombing Bashar al-Assad and his forces. And also about bombing -- with eight strikes west of Aleppo -- a ghost; an al-Qaeda cell of the mysterious Khorasan group.
No wonder global fans of the Marvel Comics school of geopolitics are puzzled. Two simultaneous villains? Yep. And the other bad guy is even more evil than The Caliph.
Astonishing mediocrity Ben Rhodes, Obama's deputy national security adviser, has defined Khorasan as "a group of extremists that is comprised of a number of individuals who we've been tracking for a long time."
The Obama administration's unison newspeak is that Khorasan includes former al-Qaeda assets not only from across the Middle East -- including al-Qaeda in Iraq and Jabhat al-Nusra -- but also Pakistan, as in an ultra-hardcore extension of the Pakistani Taliban.
What a mess. Al-Qaeda in Iraq is the embryo of ISIS, which turned into IS. Jabhat al-Nusra is the al-Qaeda franchise in Syria, approved by CEO Ayman al-Zawahiri. Both despise each other, and yet Khorasan holds the merit of bundling Caliph's goons and al-Qaeda goons together. Additionally, for Washington, Jabhat al-Nusra tends to qualify as "moderate" jihadis -- almost like "our bastards." Too messy? No problem; when in doubt, bomb everybody.
The ghost in the GWOT machine
Khorasan is the perfect ghost in the GWOT machine; the target of a war within a war. Because Obama in fact launched two wars -- as he sent two different notifications to Congress under the War Powers Resolution to cover both The Caliph and Khorasan.
And what's in a name? Well, a thinly disguised extra demonization of Iran, why not -- as historic Khorasan, the previous Parthia, stretched from mainly Iran towards Afghanistan.
Khorasan is theoretically led by The Joker -- sorry -- al-Qaeda honcho Muhsin al-Fadhli, born in Kuwait in 1981, a "senior facilitator and financier" to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq, in the priceless assessment of the State Department. Although Ayman al-Zawahiri, ever PR-conscious, has not claimed the credit, the Pentagon is convinced he sent al-Fadhli to the Syrian part of the Caliphate to attract Western jihadis with EU passports capable of evading airport security and plant bombs on commercial jets.
The Treasury Department is convinced al-Fadhli even led an al-Qaeda cell in Iran -- demonization habits die hard -- "facilitating" jihadi travel to Afghanistan or Iraq.