US Fail to Define Who Are Terrorists
As the US continues to criticize Russia's airstrike campaign in Syria, one US analyst suggests the reason for Washington's incoherence could be its failure to accurately define the word "terrorist."
Ever since Russia began its airstrikes on the self-proclaimed Islamic State terrorist group in Syria last week, Washington has condemned the actions, claiming that the Kremlin is targeting the "wrong" terrorists.
For Russia, the definition of a terrorist is simple.
"If it looks like a terrorist, if it acts like a terrorist, if it walks like a terrorist, if it fights like a terrorist, it’s a terrorist," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters during a UN briefing.
But Washington has been supporting various terror networks in the Middle East, and those affiliations are forcing the Obama administration to perform some fairly impressive rhetorical acrobatics.
"The fundamental problem is that the United States is trying to divorce its international anti-terrorism campaign from the rest of the Syrian civil war," Christopher Kozak, an analyst with the Institute for the Study of War, said.
"That's very difficult as we saw when the US-trained New Syrian Force went in and just got obliterated by Nusra. The rebels want to fight the regime, not ISIS," he said, using an alternate acronym for the self-proclaimed Islamic State.
"The Russians have some leverage because they're coming in with a position that's more coherent," Kozak added.
Part of Washington’s confusion stems from its unwillingness to define Nusra Front, al-Qaeda's arm in Syria, as a terrorist organization. When referring to Nusra, US Central Command instead uses the label "Khorasan Group."
The Khorasan Group is a complete fiction.
"The distinction between Nusra and the Khorasan Group is something the Pentagon has whipped up in order not to come out and say that we're hitting Nusra," Kozak said.
"They want to parse that line in order not to be dragged into a conflict with Nusra as well as the Islamic State."
"Obama administration is very careful about being sucked into more quagmires in the Middle East."
Yet while Washington continues to trip over its own convoluted definitions, the Russian military is taking the fight straight to the Islamic State.