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World Media on ISIS, Iraq and Syria - Part 10

Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau

30 July, 2014



 The Iraq War’s Key Players: Where Are They Now?

By Priyanka Boghani

 Why the Islamic State Has No Sympathy for Hamas

By Ali Mamouri

 Islamic State Works to Win Hearts, Minds with Bread

 José Ciro Martínez, Brent Eng

 Defenceless Turkey in Syrian 'Local' War

By Cihan Çelik

 The Chaos that has Erupted in Iraq is part of a Grander Western Strategy of a Fractured and Divided Middle East

 The Analysis Report


The Iraq War’s Key Players: Where Are They Now?

By Priyanka Boghani

July 29, 2014

It has been over a decade since the United States launched a war to topple Saddam Hussein. Three years ago the last U.S. troops left Iraq.

Over the course of the war, nearly 4,500 U.S. troops and an estimated 120,000 Iraqi civilians lost their lives, although a recent study suggested the real number of Iraqis who died as a result of the war could be as high as 500,000.

Now, Iraq’s government remains half-formed after an April election and unable to confront the militants led by Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) who have taken over cities, including Fallujah, Ramadi, Mosul and Tikrit.

Here are some of the key individuals and groups that played a role in Iraq’s slow unravelling, from the beginning of the war to the present day.

Iraqi Army

When coalition forces invaded Iraq in March 2003, Saddam Hussein’s army was estimated to number between 300,000 and 350,000 troops. After Saddam was toppled, the Bush administration appointed L. Paul Bremer in May 2003 as Iraq’s top civilian administrator.

Within days of his appointment, Bremer issued Order Number 2 — a directive to dismantle the entire Iraqi army, which was predominantly Sunni. The move shocked the army, and also took U.S. commanders by surprise. “Now you have a couple hundred thousand people who are armed because they took their weapons home with them, they know how to use the weapons, who have no future and have a reason to be angry at you,” Col. Thomas Hammes told FRONTLINE.

The United States spent an estimated $25 billion on training and equipment for new security forces between 2003 and September 2012, according to a report from the special inspector general in Iraq. In 2013 alone, the Iraqi government spent an estimated $17 billion on its security forces.

And yet, this past June, when confronted in Mosul with a much smaller force of around 1,000 armed militants from ISIS and its Sunni allies, Iraq’s army crumbled. Multiple reports described uniforms and weapons discarded by Iraqi soldiers during their hasty retreat from Iraq’s second-largest city.

What happened? The disintegration was gradual, but there were warning signs. The country’s security forces lacked cohesion, with their loyalties divided along Iraq’s sectarian lines, according to a 2010 report from International Crisis Group.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki further weakened the structure by subverting the chain of command, forming new groups that reported directly to him. He also reportedly created a personal army of sorts out of 4,500 U.S.-trained Special Forces, nicknamed “Fidayeen al-Maliki.”

After the fall of Mosul, Iraqi soldiers were quoted saying they felt “betrayed,” and “abandoned” by their officers.

Recent reports from Iraq suggest Shia militias that once took up arms to fight U.S. troops have emerged to augment the Shia-dominated Iraqi army, or in some cases, fight in its stead.

Al Qaeda in Iraq

Iraq’s insurgency emerged in August 2003, with the bombing of the Jordanian embassy in Baghdad, followed a few days later by a suicide bombing at a United Nations compound that killed the U.N.’s top envoy in Iraq.

Abu-Musab al-Zarqawi, a Sunni extremist, claimed credit for the U.N. bombing, and in October 2004, his group pledged allegiance to Al Qaeda, taking on the mantle of Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI).

AQI initially was comprised of recruits from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Egypt. It wasn’t until 2006 that the group’s membership was largely Iraqi, according to The Washington Post. The group — which expressly targeted Shia in an attempt to provoke a civil war — reached its peak in power and violence during the bitter sectarian conflict of 2006 and 2007.

But AQI’s brutality led to its undoing, even as it carried out kidnappings and beheadings.

“The Sunnis of Anbar and the Sunni populations of Baghdad had figured out that Al Qaeda was just too extreme to deal with,” said Douglas Ollivant, who oversaw Iraq policy at the National Security Council under both Bush and Obama. “They wanted to marry into their families. They were insisting they maintain a very strict Sharia.”

AQI’s heavy-handedness drove some Sunni tribes, who became known as the Sons of Iraq, into an alliance with the Americans (see below).

On June 7, 2006, Zarqawi was killed by a U.S. airstrike. Abu Ayyub al-Masri became the new leader and renamed the group the Islamic State of Iraq in October 2006. Masri and another top leader were killed in April 2010.

Sensing an opportunity, the group entered the Syrian conflict in 2011, once again rebranding itself, this time as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

While ISIS was fighting President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in Syria, it was left alone, according to Ollivant, and “allowed to metastasize into something very, very new and very, very different.”

“This time, it’s Al Qaeda version 6.0,” said Ryan Crocker, a former U.S. ambassador to Iraq. “They make [Osama] bin Laden’s 2011 Al Qaeda look like boy scouts. They are far stronger, they are far more numerous. They have thousands who hold foreign passports and require no visas to get into the United States or other western countries. They are well funded, they are battle hardened and they are well armed. And they now control far more territory exclusively than bin Laden ever did. They have the security, they have the safety to plan their next set of operations and they are a messianic movement. Believe me, they are planning those operations.”

In July 2014, ISIS declared a caliphate in territory seized from Iraq and Syria and renamed itself again — this time as the Islamic State.

The Sunni Awakening/Sons of Iraq

The so-called Sunni Awakening movement began when the Sunni population in Anbar province, some of them insurgents who had fought against U.S. troops, tired of AQI’s excesses.

Gen. Petraeus, who was then leading U.S. forces in Iraq and implementing the counterinsurgency strategy that became known as the “surge,” decided to try to exploit this wedge.

“They’d gotten tired of Al Qaeda,” Petraeus told FRONTLINE. “Al Qaeda had been abusive. It had been blowing Sunni Arabs up and Sunni mosques up, in addition to Shia Arabs and mosques. And so they were keen to get these individuals out of their areas.”

As part of his plan, Petraeus promised the Sunnis a role in the government — and he agreed to pay them, ultimately spending $400 million on what became a paramilitary group he called the “Sons of Iraq.”

“Ultimately, we had 103,000 former insurgents and actually over 20,000 former militia members, part of that 103,000, to give you a sense of the magnitude of this endeavour,” Petraeus said.

Prime Minister Maliki, who was never comfortable with the Sons of Iraq, eventually stopped paying them after the Americans left. In the years following the U.S. withdrawal, the Sunnis who had joined the Sons of Iraq grew angry as Maliki’s government targeted prominent Sunni politicians and cracked down on Sunni protesters.

Muqtada al-Sadr and the Mahdi army

Radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr became the face of Iraq’s largest and most feared Shia militia, the Mahdi army, as early as 2004. Deriving his power from his father — a much-revered and “martyred” Shia cleric — Sadr rallied his followers to kick coalition forces out of Iraq, calling the United States, the “great serpent.”

Although Sadr never held political office, he’s often described as a “kingmaker” thanks to his wide base of support in the Shia community.

Sadr’s relationship with Maliki has been volatile. He reluctantly backed Maliki as prime minister in 2006 and 2010 in exchange for government positions for his Sadrist political bloc. But he was also quick to withdraw support each time — in 2007 over Maliki’s refusal to come up with a timeline for U.S. troop withdrawal, and in 2012 over Maliki’s alleged dictatorial abuses.

Sadr’s Mahdi army repeatedly clashed with U.S. and Iraqi security forces, starting with fierce fights in Najaf in August 2004. By 2006, the Mahdi army had stormed mosques, thrown out moderate clerics and reportedly threatened the lives of [Grand Ayatollah Ali] al-Sistani and other moderate ayatollahs. Sadr’s militia was also accused of slaughtering Sunni civilians during the height of sectarian violence in 2006 and 2007.

In 2007, Sadr entered a three-year, self-imposed exile in Iran. He said he was leaving Iraq to pursue religious studies in Iran, but his departure coincided with the surge.

Maliki and Iraq’s security forces moved against the Mahdi army in March 2008, launching a campaign to drive the militia out of its strongholds in Basra and Sadr City. In August 2008, Sadr had ordered the Mahdi army to disarm, and it remained largely inactive for awhile.

“The day the Americans left [Iraq], the Sadrist militias more or less stacked their rifles, and we haven’t heard anything from them until just very recently,” said Ollivant.

Sadr returned to Iraq in 2011, as U.S. troops prepared to withdraw and the Sadrist movement made political gains. Although his party held 40 seats in Iraq’s Parliament and seven ministry positions, Sadr announced in February 2014 that he was withdrawing from politics. Observers noted at the time that Sadr has made similar pronouncements before, only to return.

The fall of Mosul and other cities to ISIS prompted mass rallies of Shia militias who called themselves the “Peace Brigades.” But analysts have suggested the new outfits are a reincarnation of Sadr’s Mahdi army, with a new name designed to distance itself from the tarnished reputation it earned in 2006 and 2007.

Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani

Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani is known as Iraq’s most influential Shia cleric. Described as a “recluse” who shuns the spotlight, Sistani has generally wielded his influence to encourage calm in Iraq.

In 2003, Sistani threw U.S. plans for a rapid transfer of power into disarray when he called for direct elections. He also said Iraq’s constitution must be written by an assembly elected by Iraqis, not appointed. At the time, a New York Times article noted, “Ayatollah Sistani has been tolerant of the United States occupation and has refrained from openly criticizing the occupation authorities.”

In 2004, Sistani negotiated a truce between Sadr’s Mahdi army and U.S. and Iraqi forces fighting in Najaf. Sistani’s influence was such that Al Qaeda in Iraq’s then-leader Zarqawi called for his death in 2006.

Days after the fall of Mosul in June, Sistani called on Shia followers to take up arms to defend “the country, the citizens and the holy sites” against ISIS and its allies. He later adjusted his statement, saying the appeal “was not only about one sect.”

That month, Sistani called for the formation of a government with “broad national support,” phrasing that many interpreted as a rebuke of Maliki’s sectarian politics.

Sistani again indirectly called on Maliki to step aside on July 25, saying that political leaders should not “cling to positions or posts,” but should have a “spirit of national responsibility.” Two days later, Maliki’s own party released a statement echoing Sistani’s language urging politicians not to “cling” to their positions.

Tariq al-Hashimi

Tariq al-Hashimi became one of Iraq’s two vice presidents beginning in 2006 and was the most senior Sunni politician in Maliki’s government.

The day after the last American troops left Iraq, the country’s interior ministry issued an arrest warrant for Hashimi, suggesting he had ties to bombings and assassinations that took place in 2006 and 2007. Hashimi’s bodyguards were accused of being complicit in targeted killings of Iraqi officials.

Hashimi fled to Iraq’s Kurdistan region the day before the arrest warrant was issued, ultimately leaving for Turkey in 2012. He was tried in absentia and sentenced to death on Sept. 10, 2012.

Hashimi has maintained his innocence, and said the charges against him were “politically motivated” — specifically blaming Maliki. He remains in Turkey to this day.

In the months leading up to Hashimi’s arrest warrant, hundreds of former Baathists, rival politicians and critics were rounded up by Iraq’s security forces. After Hashimi fled, Maliki’s government levelled charges at the bodyguards of another prominent Sunni politician, Iraq’s Finance Minister Rafi al-Issawi. The move prompted widespread anti-government protests among Sunnis, and Issawi resigned in March 2013. The protests only grew in Sunni-dominated Anbar province in 2013. On Dec. 28, Iraq’s security forces arrested a Sunni member of Parliament, Ahmed al-Alwani. Two days later, they moved to dismantle the protests camps in Ramadi, and at least 10 people were killed.

Petraeus told FRONTLINE that the Hashimi incident “started the process of undoing the process that we’d worked so hard to do during the surge and even in the years after the surge, which was to bring the fabric of Iraqi society back together to get a few stitches in the hope that it could get more.”



Why the Islamic State Has No Sympathy for Hamas

By Ali Mamouri

July 29, 2014

Most of today's Salafist jihadist movements have no interest in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, for the time being regarding it as irrelevant. Instead, their call is to engage in intense, bloody confrontations involving bombings, executions, and suicide attacks against governments headed by Muslims and against Muslim civilians.

Al-Qaeda has followed this course for decades, and now the Islamic State (IS) is following in al-Qaeda's footsteps, fighting a brutal war across swathes of Iraq and Syria and in an effort to “purify” these areas through killings and population displacement. Once taking territory, it is not mobilizing the populations under its control in opposition to the Israeli military operations in Gaza. Why is this?

Some jihadists or pro-jihadist Salafists have issued video clips and tweets explaining their lack of assistance to the Palestinians. One tweet stated, “The Hamas government is apostate, and what it is doing does not constitute jihad, but rather a defence of democracy [which Salafists oppose].” Another tweet said, “Khaled Meshaal: Hamas fights for the sake of freedom and independence. The Islamic State: it fights so that all religion can be for God.” Meshaal is head of Hamas' political bureau.

On July 22, the Egyptian Salafist sheikh Talaat Zahran declared that it is inappropriate to aid the people of Gaza because they do not follow a legitimate leadership, and because they are equivalent to Shiites since they follow them, referring to Hezbollah and Iran, with which the Sunni Hamas movement has been allied. Thus the jihadists' position is not simply a political stance, but stems from Salafist theological principles.

Salafists believe that jihad must be performed under legitimate leadership. This argument is advanced through the “banner and commander” concept, which holds that whoever undertakes jihad must follow a commander who fulfils the criteria of religious and political leadership and has raised the banner of jihad. Given that there is neither a legitimate leader nor a Salafist-approved declaration of jihad in Palestine, fighting there is forbidden.

In addition, for Salafists, if non-Muslims control Islamic countries and apostates exist in the Islamic world, the Islamic world must be cleansed of them before all else. In short, the purification of Islamic society takes priority over combat against non-Islamic societies. On this basis, Salafists see conflict with an allegedly illegitimate Hamas government as a first step toward confrontation with Israel. Should the opportunity for military action present itself in the Palestinian territories, Salafists would fight Hamas and other factions deemed in need of “cleansing” from the land and engage Israel afterward.

This approach has its roots in Islamic history, which Salafists believe confirms the validity of their position. Relevant points of historical reference include the first caliphate of Abu Bakr, which gave priority to fighting apostates over expanding Islamic conquests, which occurred later, during the second caliphate, under Umar bin al-Khattab. Likewise, Saladin fought the Shiites and suppressed them before he engaged the crusaders in the Holy Land.

Salafists today see that their priority as fighting Shiites, “Munafiqeen” (dissemblers, or false Muslims) and apostates, whom they call the “close enemy.” During the current war in Gaza, a number of IS fighters have burned the Palestinian flag because they consider it a symbol of the decline of the Islamic world, which succumbed to national divisions through the creation of independent political states. In Salafist doctrine, the entire Islamic world must be united under a single state, an Islamic caliphate, which IS declared in late June.

Salafist groups active in Gaza have engaged in various rivalries with Hamas there, but they have not succeeded in establishing a foothold of any significance. Some groups have posted video clips acknowledging their support for IS following the group’s recent victories in Iraq and Syria. The main dispute between Hamas and Salafist groups rests on their disparate principles. Hamas is more realistic and pragmatic than the jihadist Salafists. The former has political priorities in liberating Palestinian land, whereas the latter has religious priorities in the establishment of a totalitarian Islamic caliphate and considers the Israeli issue secondary to this central goal.


Islamic State Works to Win Hearts, Minds with Bread

José Ciro Martínez, Brent Eng

July 29, 2014

The Islamic State (IS) has captured headlines recently with its military victories, bank robberies and brutal executions. However, equally if not more important is how IS governs the territories it now controls.

Before its dramatic rise to fame, IS had long wielded the rhetoric of Islamic state-building, but few took the organization seriously. Perhaps, then, it is unsurprising that most coverage of IS’ rise has focused on attention-grabbing details like its surprising military prowess and antiquated punishments, rather than the programmatic aspects of its politics. This coverage has left one central and pressing question open: How could an underground extremist group turn into the new face of global jihad? The answer lies not just in ample illicit funding, well-trained soldiers and clever use of social media. IS is also serious about social services.

Military successes have been crucial to advancing IS’ stated ambition of establishing an Islamic state. After all, a state needs land to govern. Recently, IS allegedly seized control of strategic areas near the Syrian and Iraqi borders, opening up passage between the two countries. But it is IS’ work off the battlefield that may consolidate its rule.

Crucial to IS’ efforts are the production and distribution of Syria’s staple food: bread. Before the onset of the conflict, bread had provided more than 40% of the caloric needs of the Syrian people. Today, many drink and eat little else but tea and bread. But in Syria, bread is not only about nutrition. It is also wedded to politics.

Subsidized, readily available bread has long been linked to governmental legitimacy. So-called “bread compacts,” in which Middle Eastern regimes promised subsidized goods and services such as bread, education and health care in return for political passivity framed the political order since the 1960s. Bread’s dual role — “symbol and sustenance, body and spirit” — makes it a crucial consideration for IS.

As part of its state-building project, IS published a pamphlet outlining the services it offers to the state of Aleppo, where it has intermittently governed swathes of territory since September 2013. The publicity brochure describes various facets of its administration and includes all of the services one might expect from a local government: distribution of water, collection of charity funds and electricity installation. But one stands out from the others: the promise of bread.

The pamphlet highlights the organization’s efforts to “manage bakeries and mills to ensure access to bread for all.” True to its state-making ambitions, the organization is not only concerned with short-term solutions that will keep the population acquiescent. The pamphlet describes efforts to plant and harvest wheat in coming years. IS’ struggle is more than a military one.

The distribution of bread has become all the more vital in the country’s struggle to feed itself. Agricultural production has shown worrying indicators since 2008, when the effects of government mismanagement and drought resulted in one of the most meager harvests in Syria’s history. By 2011, over 800,000 people were "severely affected," according to several UN assessments.

Increased military operations, rising transportation costs, poor harvests and blockades in several areas have led to dramatic increases in the price of food. Reduced wage-earning opportunities, high inflation and an overall 18-20% contraction in the economy between 2012 and 2013 mean few can afford what is available.

By every measure, food security is continuing to deteriorate. Fields and farming assets have been destroyed. Wheat harvests for 2013-2014 are forecast at 1.97 million tons, nearly 20% below last year’s harvest, and 38% below the five-year average (2009-13).

Shortages are reported in both regime and opposition-controlled territories. Inequitable access to food is most prevalent in contested districts, where Syrians suffer from hunger, malnutrition and starvation. An estimated 6.3 million people are in critical need of assistance.

In besieged areas, bread and flour imports not sanctioned by the regime are completely banned. When violence flares, finding bread becomes an impossible task. In some areas, prices have risen to nearly 500 Syrian pounds ($3.35) for subsidized bread that once cost 15 ($0.10).

Amid the chaos, IS has taken over the supply of food in parts of Raqqa, Hasakah and Deir ez-Zor. Sources in the country report said that the organization has made a concerted effort to win the hearts — and stomachs — of the people by distributing bread.

Deir ez-Zor — a largely agricultural and oil-rich region — was one of the provinces most affected by the four-year drought that preceded the conflict. It is now one of the most fiercely contested provinces. In a recent statement, Jihan al-Ahmad, a spokeswoman for the local pro-opposition news outlet Syria Mubashir in Deir ez-Zor province, said, “Most of the time there is no bread.”

When bread does appear on tables in the province, Ahmad claimed that it is because IS “either distributes the flour in bags, or puts the flour in the bakery and provides it with fuel to operate.” He said, “IS bakes the bread and distributes it at a cheap price or for free. They try to distribute the bread for free among the poor, needy and victims’ families.”

Footage released by IS and other jihadist groups show fighters distributing bread out of the backs of trucks and homes. In the videos, Syrians surrounded by bombed and crumbling buildings wait patiently to hand combatants’ slips of paper in exchange for bags of fresh bread.

IS has re-opened bombed bakeries, re-supplied oil-hungry flour mills and re-stocked empty wheat silos. It is combating the national bread shortage through patient, time-consuming efforts aimed at ensuring popular support. Capitalizing on the failures of both the regime and the Free Syrian Army, IS touts its bread-distribution operation as a model of efficiency and compassion.

IS is now facing new challenges. The Syrian and Iraqi militaries, as well as their foreign allies, will do their utmost to obliterate the audacious military force that threatens their control. Will IS’ state-building strategies survive?

Undoubtedly, IS will live and die on the battlefield. It will gain and lose lands through its military prowess and the myriad factors that contribute to its power. Achieving lasting popular support and consolidating administrative control, however, will depend on the type of tedious service provisions that are too often neglected. In addition to analyzing the organization’s understanding of Sharia, its military tactics and its foreign sponsors, we would be well served by also thinking about bread. IS already is.


Defenceless Turkey in Syrian 'Local' War

By Cihan Çelik


There has long been a “belief” that Turkey has been heavily involved in the ongoing civil war in Syria by helping anti-regime rebels in their fight against President Bashar al-Assad. That “belief” has become a staunch fact after the recent leak regarding the spying on the secret security meeting between the country’s top security and diplomatic officials at the Turkish Foreign Ministry.

Moreover, the existence of secret recordings of a high-level security meeting also showed the Turkish state has been left defenseless against a clandestine enemy, which was able to spy on one of the country’s top safeguarded post for more than a year. Top Turkish officials, including Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, were so quick in two issues: Blaming what they call the “parallel state” for the spying scandal and banning access to YouTube, on which the recordings were uploaded.

The overdosed daily-basis releases of previous secret recordings featuring the PM, his family members and many other officials’ voices have so far linked the government’s friend-turned-foe Hizmet (Service) Movement led by Fethullah Gülen, the self-exiled Turkish Islamic scholar in the United States. Putting blame on Hizmet was so easy for Erdogan and his government officials on the eve of the local elections heavily tainted by the corruption scandal involving many senior officials.

But the high scale of the spying operation might exceed the power and will of Hizmet; thus, they might have used a hand that still seems “friendly” to the Turkish rulers. In that case, the threat Turkey has been facing has become bigger, considering that its many other secrets have been leaked to a third party or more. The desperate whodunit scenarios eventually ended up with nothing, since the real perpetrators will never be found.

Even the hopeless hunt was the clear hint that Turkey, under the Justice and Development Party (AKP), has become weaker than ever; weak, but not quite. The leaked recordings have proven the Turkish government was ready for a war to make Erdogan “a national” or even “a regional” hero, who fiercely defended his country, as well as saved poor Syrians from their notorious leader.

Nevertheless, the truth is quite the opposite. In repeated speeches, Erdogan called the Syrian crisis Turkey’s “internal matter,” meaning he could not leave his Syrian brothers to their ill fate. Apparently, the Syria issue was Turkey’s internal matter, but not in humanitarian terms, rather as a wild, bloody campaign to distract public attention from the ongoing corruption case on the eve of local elections. He did not mind about the fate of his Syrian brothers, since he was ready to send his own fellow citizens to a war.

The trouble is the Turkish government has failed in its campaign to support Syrian rebels as the top officials admitted they “missed many opportunities in the past” to alter the course of the civil war in Syria. Turkey was not only playing host to rebels, but also supporting, arming and training them, but Ankara’s efforts have fallen short due to Erdogan’s reluctance to take responsibility. Instead, he was after putting the military in charge; so he could be able to skip being a scapegoat if the plan were to go all wrong.

But the Turkish military was not naïve and it also avoided being the star of the Syrian play. Turkey’s borders have been left to al-Qaeda-linked militants, while its citizens are exposed to possible violent attacks by Turkey-backed fighters. Still, that would not stop Turkey from attacking Syria. A covert-op led by the intelligence could be staged and “eight missiles could be thrown at Turkish soil from Syrian territory by four Turkish spies.” Now, Turkey has international legitimacy and support for its patriot campaign against Syria!

Not so fast. Because the Turkish government has been taken hostage by the so-called “parallel” hands and it has fallen prey to its own trap. Now the big question is, what would the Turkish government be able to do if a real attack is staged on its soil within and without Syria? What if the artificial war scenario becomes real? Would it be able to take any action against the attacker after this outrageous scandal or would it just sit with its hands tied up? Who would, in Turkey or abroad, believe and support the AKP government’s local war on Syria?


This article shows that what is happening today had been planned almost a decade ago. Baghdadi is only a pawn in the hands of the imperialist forces to be hanged after the purpose is served. ---Edit


The Chaos that has Erupted in Iraq is part of a Grander Western Strategy of a Fractured and Divided Middle East

The Analysis Report

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) (or ISIS depending on how you translate the title of the group), is a covert western army designed to carve out a Sunni mini-state in a chaotic Middle East, which is to be fractured along artificial sectarian and ethnic lines.

Iraq has been plunged into a further state of chaos over the past fortnight, as mercenaries from the ISIL have launched attacks against the Iraqi Army in numerous towns in the Northwest of the country. The ISIL is a group of foreign mercenaries supported by the west which has committed what “almost certainly amounts to war crimes” in Iraq, according to the UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay. The Sunni dominated ISIL has long been used by western powers in neighbouring Syria to destabilise and destroy the Bashar al-Assad regime in Damascus, which refuses to be absorbed into the western economic-corporate empire.

Western imperial powers have used a policy of divide and conquer, coupled with chaos, to fracture regimes along sectarian and ethnic lines in order to destroy nation states that resist Anglo-American-European hegemony. Iraq is part of a wider strategy for the Middle East which is advocated by western geopolitical strategists Zbigniew Brzezinski and Bernard Lewis. Historian and author Webster Tarpley crystallises the Brzezinski-Lewis blueprint for a “New Middle East” during an interview in 2012:

“The US strategic goal in the Middle East is the destruction of all existing national states. There’s an outline for this that has been known for many years as the Bernard Lewis plan, [and] it’s been expressed again by people like Zbigniew Brzezinski; micro states, mini-states, rump-states, secessionism, chaos, war lords and NATO feels free to seize whatever assets they think are important” (3:29 into the interview).

Bernard Lewis gave a glimpse into the strategy of western powers in an article published in the 1992 issue of the Council on Foreign Relations magazine “Foreign Affairs” titled Rethinking the Middle East:

“Most of the states of the Middle East – Egypt is an obvious exception – are of recent and artificial construction and are vulnerable to such a process. If the central power is sufficiently weakened, there is no real civil society to hold the polity together, no real sense of common national identity or overriding allegiance to the nation state. The state then disintegrates – as happened in Lebanon – into a chaos of squabbling, feuding, fighting sects, tribes, regions and parties.” (The 8th paragraph from the bottom of the article).

As Tony Cartalucci has reported for New Eastern Outlook, the ISIL is a creation of the US and its Sunni Gulf Monarch allies in the region. It is designed to create a Sunni Islamic state within Iraq and increase sectarian tensions across the Middle East which will weaken the Shia powers of Iran, Syria and Hezbollah. World Net Daily has also received leaks from Jordanian officials which reveal that the US military trained the militants in secret bases inside Jordan in 2012, to then be deployed to fight against the regime in Syria. The ISIL has been destabilising Iraq for years and in March the Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki asserted that Saudi Arabia and Qatar were funding the ISIL to weaken the government in Bagdad. In the run up to the Iraqi elections in April, the ISIL were fighting in the western Anbar region of Iraq which resulted in approximately 300 deaths in February.

The official narrative propagated from the mainstream media is that Iraq is experiencing a bloody civil war that has erupted out of deep sectarian divisions that have existed for decades. Yet it has been documented at length that the main group that has been perpetuating the violence within Iraq – namely ISIL – is controlled by the west and their regional allies. A recent article in the Guardian newspaper by Iraqi refugee and Sociology lecturer at London Metropolitan University, Sami Ramadani, describes the absence of sectarian violence in Iraq prior to the invasion in 2003. He describes how sectarian violence only became a problem after the invasion, and believes that the colonial strategy of divide and rule has been used in Iraq to fragment the country into 3 regions based along sectarian lines.

The agenda of Iraq being divided into 3 separate regions has been the policy of western imperious powers for decades, with a map released in 2006 by retired general of the U.S. National War Academy Lieutenant-Colonel Ralph Peters depicting Iraq split into 3 regions; a Sunni Iraq to the West, a Arab Shia State in the East and a Free Kurdistan in the North:

As well as a controlled Sunni group capturing much of western Iraq in recent weeks, the prescient 2006 strategy outlined in the map is further supported by the Kurdish fighters in Syria carving out an independent region in the northeast of Syria. In January the Syrian Kurds declared an autonomous region which could see the creation of a Free Kurdistan in the Middle East, especially if it is merged with Iraqi Kurdistan in Northern Iraq next door.

Imperious powers have always feared a strong, unified and cohesive people who can form organised resistance movements to oppose colonial forces. Classical divide and conquer doctrine has been implemented in the Middle East over the previous few decades in order to engineer a state of chaos which destroys nation states. Destabilisation, chaos and balkanisation is the policy of today, which weakens regimes who are hostile to western geostrategic interests and allows multinational corporations to rape the region of its resources.