Destroying Iraq

Shashwat Sinha


hat is happening in Iraq is a de-facto re-invasion of Iraq by Western interests, but this time it is through a proxy force in extremist outfit ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria). War hawks like Blair, Cheney and McCaine are crying for direct war. Though the US has expressed shock and is feigning having no knowledge of ‘sudden’ ISIS advancement in Iraq and falling of Mosul, the charade is quite obvious. With surveillance drones, satellites and deep infiltration of intelligence agents in the region, it is highly improbable that the US was not aware of what was happening on the ground. The Lebanon Daily Start in March 2014 had reported that ISIS openly withdrew its forces from Latakia and Idlib provinces in western Syria, and redeployed them in Syria’s east - along the Syrian-Iraqi border. The article titled, “Al-Qaeda splinter group in Syria leaves two provinces: activists,” stated explicitly that: On Friday, ISIS – which alienated many rebels by seizing territory and killing rival commanders – finished withdrawing from the Idlib and Latakia provinces and moved its forces toward the eastern Raqqa province and the eastern outskirts of the northern city of Aleppo, activists said. If a Lebanese newspaper knew ISIS was on the move eastward, why didn’t the CIA? The obvious answer is the CIA did know, and is simply feigning ignorance at the expense of their reputation to bait its enemies into suspecting the agency of incompetency rather than complicity in the horrific terroristic swath ISIS is now carving through northern Iraq.

Moreover, the US would not have tolerated if ISIS was a direct threat to their interests and would have not allowed it to advance so far. The use of brutal and deadly force to thwart even a perceived threat has always been a cornerstone of the US ruthless imperial policy. The fact that the US has allowed ISIS to advance and have nearly a free hand is extremely suspicious. The western media is tirelessly reporting that the Iraqi army ‘melted away’ in the face of onslaught of ISIS fighters. This too is not only false narrative but a deliberate attempt to hide truth. ISIS fighters were heavily armed, well organized akin to a standing army; this could not have been possible only through ‘twitter’ like funding; the support must come from powerful state(s) with deep interests in the region. ISIS is already connected to other intelligence agencies and might not need direct support from the US. Many analysts have noted that the ISIS receives generous donations from Saudi Arabia and Qatar, both of whom are staunch US allies. According to London’s Daily Express, “through allies such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the West has supported militant rebel groups which have since mutated into ISIS and other al Qaeda connected militias.” Given the history of geo-politics in the region since 1920s, it should be no surprise as to where the funds are coming from. ISIS forces swept southward into Iraq from Turkey and north-east Syria taking the cities of Mosul and Tikrit. It was too big a movement to go unnoticed by the US intelligence which already has assets in Iraq. The ISIS now threatens Baghdad itself which forced the US to send some token 300 military advisers.
The confusing aspect for any observer is that why the US did not take any action to stop advancement of ISIS. The reason is masked by a plethora of events unfolding every day. However, if one observes at how imperial powers behave, the reason may become clear; the reason of the US allowing ISIS to advance is that the strategic objectives of ISIS and those of the United States coincide. Both entities seek greater political representation for Sunnis, both want to minimize Iranian influence in Iraq, and both support a soft partition plan that former president of the Council on Foreign Relations, Leslie H. Gelb, called “The only viable strategy to correct (Iraq’s) historical defect and move in stages toward a three-state solution: Kurds in the north, Sunnis in the center and Shiites in the south.” This is why Obama hasn’t attacked the militia even though it has marched to within 50 miles of Baghdad. It’s because the US benefits from these developments. As a good financial journalist follows ‘money’ in unearthing financial scams, in middle-east one needs to follow oil and its control.
Not so long ago, the US’s diplomatic defeat due to Russia’s intervention in Syria’s conflict and Iran chagrined it to no end, undermining its very capability of having any diplomatic solution to international affairs. With not being able to wage more direct wars in the region it goes back to its Reaganite policies of deploying the dirtiest tactic of covert wars and fueling sectarian violence. The US can tolerate no regional power like Iran and a weakened Iran and Syria would best serve its imperial interests. Sectarian violence coupled with weakened Arab nationalism is what the US wants as it makes the region weak with no strong national resistance with a powerful central leadership. The fighting in Iraq has divided it along sectarian lines. The Kurds have expanded their zone in the northeast to include the oil city of Kirkuk, which they regard as part of Kurdistan, while Sunnis have taken ground in the west. This is quite aligned with the US objectives as mentioned before; a divided Iraq with sectarian statelets will help in controlling the region better. What British did about a century ago, the US finds itself with the same opportunity to reshape the region. Veteran middle-east journalist Seymour Hersh anticipated this in 2007 in his article titled “The Redirection.” Author Tony Cartalucci gives a great summary of the piece in his own article. He says: “’The Redirection,’ documents US, Saudi, and Israeli intentions to create and deploy sectarian extremists region-wide to confront Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah in Lebanon. Hersh would note that these ‘sectarian extremists’ were either tied to Al Qaeda, or Al Qaeda itself.” The ISIS army moving toward Baghdad is the final manifestation of this conspiracy, a standing army operating with impunity, threatening to topple the Syrian government, purge pro-Iranian forces in Iraq, and even threatening Iran itself by building a bridge from Al Qaeda’s NATO safe havens in Turkey, across northern Iraq, and up to Iran’s borders directly.
Going back further, in 2002, at the behest of the Bush administration, the Rand Corporation developed a ‘shaping strategy’ to pacify Muslim populations where the US’s commercial or strategic interests lied. The plan they came up with was called “US Strategy in the Muslim World after 9-11,” which recommended that the US, “align its policy with Shiite groups who aspire to have more participation in government and greater freedoms of political and religious expression. If this alignment can be brought about, it could erect a barrier against radical Islamic movements and may create a foundation for a stable U.S. position in the Middle East.” The plan proved to be a huge tactical error. By throwing their weight behind Shias and installing Maliki to head the puppet government in Iraq, they triggered a massive Sunni rebellion that initiated as many as 100 attacks per day on US soldiers. That, in turn, led to a savage US counterinsurgency that wound up killing tens of thousands of Sunnis while reducing much of the country to ruins. Petraeus’ vicious onslaught was concealed behind the misleading PR smokescreen of sectarian civil war. It was actually a genocidal war against the people who Obama now tacitly supports in Mosul and Tikrit. This is classic US stance which aligns itself with its so called enemies (e.g. Taliban in Afghanistan) as soon as their objectives coincide. So, now the policy is reversed. The US now is looking for ways to support Sunni-led groups in their effort to topple the Al Assad regime in Damascus, weaken Hezbollah, and curtail Iran’s power in the region. While the strategy is ruthless and despicable, at least it makes sense in the perverted logic of imperial expansion, which the Rand plan never did. Maliki, though himself corrupt and incapable ruler of Iraq is a Shia and aligned to Iran. Under Iran’s influence he refused to sign any agreement that provided full immunity to US soldiers for war crimes which forced the US to pull out its army. It is another discussion that still thousands of private contractors aka private mercenaries remain stationed in Iraq manning its massive consulate in Baghdad. Pentagon though not directly funding ISIS must be mighty pleased with the ISIS performance. If the U.S. had plans to stay in Iraq for indefinite time with a huge military, this seems like the most opportune moment to re-instate permanent war machine in Iraq.
Saddam Hussein though being a ruthless dictator headed a nationalist government which was not sectarian or religious fundamentalist. What threatens now Iraq is the most serious form of religious fundamentalism in ISIS, though a direct off-shoot of Al-qaeda but far more dangerous in its methods and objectives. ISIS aims to establish the rule of Caliphate from Mediterranean Sea till Iran.
An alternate Syrian news source says, “ISIS, an English acronym for Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (sometimes translated “Levant”), is in Arabic “Daa’esh” the acronym for Al-Dawla Al-Islaamiyya Fi-Al-‘Iraaq wa Al-Shaam”. Its leader Bandar bin Sultan, is a fellow by the non de guerre of Abu Bakr Al-Baghdaadi. It is a Salafist-Takfiri group aiming to resurrect the now-defunct institution of the caliphate. Its origins are pure Al-Qaeda with a twist. Bandar bin Sultan, who is now himself defunct utilized Saudi Arabia’s vast network of mosque franchises to recruit young men and women to fight a Sunni war against the largely Shiite government in Baghdad. At one time, in 2007, such a plan to arrest the growth of Iranian influence made sense to the mostly unimaginative Saudis but, as it turned out, with much credit to America’s Mr. Bean, Robert Ford, the entire plan went awry and has become a virulent, metastatic cancer that threatens the Saudis themselves, not to mention the U.S. and its allies’ interests. With ISIS allied now with Saddam’s remnant Ba’ath, it’s easy to see why the Saudis might be terrified.
“It was the Saddamist Ba’athists who invaded Kuwait. Izzaat Ibraaheem Al-Douri (wanted by Maliki government), the right hand man of Saddam and a native of Mosul controls the vast network of Iraqi Sunni Ba’athists who operate in a manner similar to the old Odessa organization that helped escaped Nazis after WWII. He did not have the support structure needed to oust Al-Maliki, so, he found an odd alliance in ISIS through the offices of Erdoghan and Bandar. This explains why Mosul fell to ISIS as top Ba’athist military leadership from Saddam regime abandoned the Iraqi army in support of ISIS to which Al-Douri is aligned.
“In actuality, ISIS is the product of a joint NATO-GCC conspiracy stretching back as far as 2007 where US-Saudi policymakers sought to ignite a region-wide sectarian war to purge the Middle East of Iran’s arch of influence stretching from its borders, across Syria and Iraq, and as far west as Lebanon and the coast of the Mediterranean. ISIS has been harbored, trained, armed, and extensively funded by a coalition of NATO and Persian Gulf states within Turkey’s (NATO territory) borders and has launched invasions into northern Syria with, at times, both Turkish artillery and air cover. The most recent example of this was the cross-border invasion by Al Qaeda into Kasab village, Latikia province in northwest Syria.” From Syrian Perspective source: “When it became clear that fellow terrorist organizations were unable to dislodge the Syrian army from most major Syrian cities, Abu Bakr took his army of terrorists into Syria by formally announcing the creation of the ISIS on the 8th of April, 2013.”
Iraq is now on the verge of civil war. Iran has already said that it would not hesitate to protect Shia shrines in Iraq making matters worse. The situation is so complicated that without seeing the events in perspective it is impossible to understand what is going on. No matter how much analysis is done, the elephant in the room is the Iraq invasion of 2003 by Bush administration on false WMD pretext that started destruction of Iraq. With hundreds of thousands dead (600,000 – 1.4 million), millions (4 million by one estimate) displaced, the country’s infrastructure completely decimated, environment polluted, prisons like Abu Gharib and now sectarian violence in full swing, Iraq has been pushed back in time.