Airstrikes Reveal Forever War In Syria Despite ‘Withdrawal’ And Challenge Of Dealing With Iran

airstrikes syria, CC BY 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

A story that hasn’t gotten a lot of buzz, but probably should, is the ongoing war in Syria. 

The most recent episode involved U.S military airstrikes ordered against groups linked to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). The airstrikes were in response to rocket attacks on American bases in Syria.

But wait, I thought we pulled our troops from Syria? I wasn’t the only one surprised to hear we were still in Syria.

These rocket attacks and airstrikes come at an interesting time. The Biden administration attempts to seal the new Iran nuclear deal despite Republican and Israeli apprehension of the agreement. Perhaps it’s because of groups like IRGC that have some on edge about signing any contract with the burgeoning nuclear power. 

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A Delayed Response

The original rocket attacks on the American bases in Syria happened on August 15th. President Biden gave the order to retaliate this week. Why the delayed response?

Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl provided this non-answer:

“Part of it’s an accumulation, we don’t want Iran to draw the wrong conclusion that they can continue just doing this and get away with it. But part of it was also the nature of the attacks on the 15th. The fact that they were coordinated against two U.S. facilities at the same time. The fact that we have Iran dead to rights on attribution, that the [drone] parts that we’ve collected, for example, traced directly back to Tehran.”

Clear as mud? That’s what I thought too. Mr. Kahl goes on to say:

“I think our concern was that this might be an indication that Iran intends to do more of this and we wanted to disabuse them of any sense that that was a good idea.”

While I’m always a fan of the use of the word disabuse, I fear that Mr. Kahl and the Biden administration might be overly optimistic about what deters Iran.

Before we dive into why on earth we would want to get into a nuclear deal with Iran when we know they are facilitating IRGC attacks, let’s first talk about these two American bases in Syria.

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Do Elections Matter At This Point?

I seem to remember during the dark times of mean tweets, President Donald Trump had decided to withdraw American forces from Syria. This decision was the catalyst for former Secretary of Defense James Mattis resigning from his post.

Yet here we are today, with approximately 900 American troops stationed in Syria. How did that happen?

Some in D.C. believed they knew better than the former Commander-in-Chief. For example, former diplomat Jim Jeffrey said in an interview regarding the troop withdrawal:

“We were always playing shell games to not make clear to our leadership how many troops we had there.”

He goes on to say there; “was never a Syria withdrawal.” A former Obama State Department member Jim Sciuttio confirms this account in an interview, stating:

“Senior DOD officials told me how they fooled Trump into leaving troops on the ground. If you look at his tweets, they were definitive about leaving. And then we didn’t leave. And now we haven’t left. We’re still there, and that’s a good thing.”

So let’s just let that sink in for a minute. Non-elected bureaucrats misled the elected President because they believed they knew best… and apparently, we are just openly admitting it these days? 

Now that we’ve established that the oft-scoffed at ‘deep state’ exists, let’s dive into why we would rejoin a nuclear deal with Iran. 

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Please Don’t Make A Nuclear Bomb, Pretty Please

One might assume that drone parts linked back to Tehran used by the IRGC to target American troops in Syria would be a deal breaker between us and Iran. But, apparently, the two are not linked.

As Mr. Kahl says:

“What the strikes last night illustrated is that our commitment to push back against Iran’s support for terrorism, militancy and the threats they engage in against our people in the region or elsewhere are not linked to wherever we end up on the nuclear deal.”

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So it appears that the Biden administration is still planning to push forward with the restart of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal that would release economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for their promise not to make a nuclear bomb. Besides the Republicans in D.C., there is another party not enthused by this deal moving forward: Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid asserts that the Iranian government will use the money released if this deal goes through for nefarious purposes. Prime Minister Lapid states:

“This money will fund the Revolutionary Guard. It will fund more attacks on American bases in the Middle East. It will be used to strengthen Hezbollah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad.”

He’s not wrong, as illustrated by the latest attacks by the IRGC. However, there is some real danger of Iran building a nuclear weapon. 

Last year the International Atomic Energy Agency chief Rafael Grossi said Iran’s progress towards enriching uranium is only seen in “countries making bombs reaching this level.” So it looks like Iran has us stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Lose/Win Situation

It seems to me that we’ve got ourselves a lose/win situation with Iran. No matter what, we seem to lose. Either we sign into a nuclear deal with Iran and continue to face attacks from Iran via proxies, or we don’t, and Iran continues to attack us via proxies and enrich uranium. 

Iran wins regardless. They either continue to enrich uranium and build a nuclear bomb, or they receive some economic reprieve and continue to attack us via proxies. 

One only needs to look at the recent attacks to see that Iran is not planning to back down. Besides the failed rocket attacks on our bases in Syria, there was the Iranian government’s praise behind the stabbing of novelist Salman Rushdie.

Let’s not forget that a member of the IRGC was apprehended for plotting to assassinate former National Security Adviser John Bolton and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for the killing of top Iranian general Qassim Suleimani. 

But perhaps the scariest thing is that those we elect into office aren’t the ones running the country. 

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USAF Retired, Bronze Star recipient, outspoken veteran advocate. Hot mess mom to two monsters and wife to equal parts... More about Kathleen J. Anderson

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