President George W. Bush defined post-9/11 US doctrine when he said, "either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists."
Kuwait, it seems, is with the terrorists.
According to an article in today's Washington Post, Kuwait is "the leading source of funding for al-Qaeda-linked terrorists fighting in Syria’s civil war." The oil-rich sheikdom has funneled hundreds of millions of dollars to train and equip the allies of those who attacked the US on 9/11. These groups are now fighting to establish militant Islamic extremism in place of Syria's multi-ethnic and secular, though authoritarian, political system.
Quoted in the article, Treasury Undersecretary David S. Cohen called Kuwait “the epicenter of fundraising for terrorist groups in Syria.”
Surely such a strong al-Qaeda ally is on the short list for a drone strike or two. After all, just over a week ago the US killed dozens only suspected of al-Qaeda ties in a strike on Yemen.
Why no bombs? Though the Washington Post article suggests that a shift toward more concern over Kuwait's Syria policy might be underway, the truth is the US understands that the al-Qaeda and other extremist groups are the only real fighting forces on the ground. The idea that there is a significant home-grown Syrian force capable of overthrowing the Assad government has always been a fantasy.
As the Post itself reported last fall, "Foreign extremists dominate Syria fight."
Now, as the war seems for the time to have lurched toward the Assad government's favor, neighboring countries are increasingly concerned about the foreign jihadists who are returning home.
Jordan, which never misses an opportunity to do whatever Washington demands, is finding that its obsequiousness carries significant dangers. In another Post article today, we learn that "Jordan has stepped up arrests of hard-line Islamists and moved to strengthen anti-terror legislation amid rising concern about homegrown militants returning from the battlefields in next-door Syria."
But without these foreign fighters, the "Syrian" opposition collapses like a house of cards. That is why the State Department's fierce "hashtag" and "selfie" brigades have not (yet) turned their sights on one of the major funders of terrorism in our time, the Kuwaitis. To do so is to admit total failure of US policy toward Syria over the past three or more years.
Of course our suggestion that a US attack on Kuwait might be in order is purely Swiftian jest.
The US foreign policy establishment is incapable of admitting a mistake, let alone correcting it. The US will only prolong the killing by continuing to support the violent overthrow in Syria. Fighting terrorism by aligning with countries that fund al-Qaeda makes the US appear the world's greatest hypocrites.
Kuwait helped lie the US into the first attack on Iraq when in 1990 it hired US PR firms to hoodwink Congress. Its support for terrorists in Syria has drawn us to the brink of another. At the least, perhaps it's time for our special friendship with Kuwait to be shorn of its perverse benefits.