Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Desk
31 July, 2014
ISIS: The jihadist movement stamped “Made in America”
By Jean Shaoul
Why ISIS Makes ‘Al-Qaeda Look Like the Boy Scouts’
By Tim Molloy
ISIS violations are an Islamic responsibility
By Eyad Abu Shakra
In Mosul, resistance against ISIS rises from city’s rubble
By Jean Marc Mojon and Ammar Karim
Intervention, Evasion, Destabilisation
By Brahma Chellaney
ISIS: The Jihadist Movement Stamped “Made In America”
By Jean Shaoul
30 July 2014
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is made up of forces variously estimated at between 3,000 and 10,000 fighters. It has taken over much of eastern Syria and northern and western Iraq, as well as the Trabil crossing on the Jordan–Iraq border. Its territory now extends to within 76 miles (122 kilometres) of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.
The group has declared its intention of establishing a caliphate in the region, eliminating all the borders established in the Middle East by Britain and France after World War I along the lines of the secret Sykes-Picot agreement of 1915.
Last month, working with armed tribal leaders and former members of Saddam Hussein’s outlawed Baath Party, it captured the northern city of Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq, took control of its military and commercial resources, and continued expanding south along the Tigris River, taking the city of Tikrit.
Over the last two weeks, ISIS forces have expelled the Christian community from Mosul, which has been home to Christians for more than 1,600 years, demanding that they convert, flee or face execution. Over 1,000 Christians have reportedly fled the city.
Crucially as far as the major powers are concerned, ISIS has captured much of the region’s strategic oil industry. It is also seizing large amounts of US weaponry abandoned in the country after the withdrawal from Iraq three years ago, including 1,500 Humvees, 4,000 PKC machineguns, and 52 M198 155-millimeter howitzers. This heavy artillery gives them the capability to bombard Iraqi cities, including potentially Baghdad, threatening Western commercial interests.
The fact remains, however, that the US, the major European powers, and their regional allies all previously lent financial, military and political support to ISIS and similar groups, which have “Made in the USA” stamped all over them. They have, until now, played a significant part in Washington’s efforts to overthrow the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria, as part of a broader effort to gain control of the region’s vast energy resources and transit routes.
ISIS is distinguished by its religious fanaticism, commitment to capitalism, and virulent anti-communism. Like the Taliban in Afghanistan and similar groups in Somalia, Nigeria and elsewhere, it uses terror to put pressure on the imperialist powers and force them to make some accommodation with it as a regional power centre.
Such outfits have been able to garner some measure of support by exploiting the deeply rooted social discontent of broad layers of the population in the Middle East, largely as a result of the failure of the secular nationalist regimes and parties to improve the social and economic conditions or achieve any meaningful independence from imperialism.
ISIS is an offshoot of Al Qaeda, the terrorist Islamic group previously headed by Osama bin Laden, the son of the wealthy owner of a construction company with close links to the House of Saud. Al Qaeda was formed in the late 1980s in Afghanistan with support from the CIA, which backed the mujahedin as part of its covert war that began in 1979 against the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul.
Over a ten-year period, the US gave the mujahedin around $5 billion in weaponry and aid to recruit and train local forces. Saudi Arabia and Pakistan promoted the mujahedin, encouraging volunteers from the Arab and Islamic countries, such as bin Laden.
Al Qaeda was by no means the only Islamic fundamentalist group supported by Washington and its allies in a struggle for geopolitical influence against regimes and movements allied to Russia. Israel fostered Hamas, the offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, as a counterweight to Yasser Arafat’s Palestine Liberation Organisation.
ISIS, formed in 2004, later incorporated a number of Sunni insurgent factions in Iraq. It was responsible for three terrorist bombings of hotels in Amman, Jordan in 2005, but remained a small group until the demonstrations that began in Dera’a in southern Syria in March 2011.
The Western powers, flush with success after organising an Islamist insurgency in Benghazi in order to justify NATO’s overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, thought they could use similar forces to overthrow Assad in Syria, whose regime draws its main base of support from the Alawite sect, a Shi’a offshoot, and Sunni businessmen.
For three years, the US, along with the Gulf States and Turkey, poured billions into “opposition” groups, supposedly to unnamed “moderates,” but in reality to Al Qaeda-linked Sunni groups such as al-Nusra and ISIS to spearhead a sectarian war. The US, Turkey and Jordan have operated a base in Jordan where US instructors trained dozens of ISIS members. In an article last year, the New York Times confirmed that the CIA assisted Arab governments and Turkey by airlifting weaponry to these groups in Jordan and Turkey. The Guardian reported last March that British and French instructors were also involved.
Other ISIS members were trained near Incirlik Air Base near Adana, Turkey, where US forces are based. After completing their training, they went to Syria and later Iraq. Following the overthrow of the Gaddafi regime, the CIA used the US consulate in Benghazi as a transit base for weaponry, Islamist fighters and cash to Syria, until it was attacked on September 11, 2012 by Islamist militias in a “blowback” operation that killed the US ambassador and three consular staffers.
As opposition grew to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s Shi’ite-dominated government, installed by Washington, which has launched a reign of terror against Iraq’s minority Sunni population, the US and Saudi-sponsored civil war in Syria spilled over into Iraq.
ISIS’s seemingly rapid advance must have been well prepared by its allies in the region, Saudi Arabia and Israel. Israel carries out constant surveillance of Syria from the Golan Heights, from where it has launched attacks on Syria, and provided intelligence information and a field hospital for the “rebels.” Israeli figures, including former Israeli ambassador to Washington Michael Oren and Amos Gilad, director of the Defence Ministry’s policy and political-military relations department, have spoken openly of Tel Aviv’s working relations with the Saudis.
Shalom Yerushalmi, writing in the Israeli daily Maariv last March, claimed that Saudi Arabia was not just coordinating its intelligence efforts with Tel Aviv, but actually financing much of Israel’s campaign against Iran, possibly as much a $1 billion, including its assassinations and development of computer viruses.
It is likely that Washington knew in advance of the ISIS offensive, given its stationing of Patriot missiles and the CIA’s monitoring operations near the Turkish-Syrian border. It was widely reported last March that after the recapture of areas in western Syria by regime forces, ISIS and al-Nusra had withdrawn to their bases in the east, near the border with Iraq. But if the ISIS advance was unknown to the US, it means that its allies are working behind its back.
While Riyadh has now sought to distance itself from ISIS, outlawing the group, it is unlikely that it has stopped all funding. It is determined to ensure a Sunni buffer between itself and Iran and a government in Baghdad that is not beholden to Tehran, while working with Tel Aviv to ensure that Washington does not collaborate with Iran to suppress the Sunni insurgency.
Washington is now riven with dissent as to how to proceed. In Syria, it is backing the very forces it opposes in Iraq. Meanwhile, it has sent forces to protect its embassy and 5,000 staff and subcontractors in Baghdad, and is preparing the ground for new military ventures, using the threat from ISIS as a pretext.
Why ISIS Makes ‘Al-Qaeda Look Like the Boy Scouts’
By Tim Molloy
July 29, 2014
Top U.S. officials say what they really think in Frontline's “Losing Iraq”
The ISIS jihadists appeared seemingly out of nowhere, waving black flags, robbing banks and ammunition dumps, and killing those they considered the wrong ethnicity or faith.
After the attacks last month, David Petraeus and Ryan Crocker didn't necessarily want to say “I told you so,” but they wanted to say something. Petraeus had led the U.S. forces in Iraq, and Crocker had served as the U.S. ambassador there. They join other American leaders who bluntly explain what went wrong in Frontline's new “Losing Iraq.”
Crocker says in the film, airing Tuesday, that he and Petraeus were so worried about President Obama's plan to get U.S. troops out of Iraq that they “refused to talk about timelines.” Petraeus details how he paid out $400 million to persuade Sunni fighters to stop killing Americans and instead battle Al-Qaeda.
President Bush's envoy to Iraq, Paul Bremer, says that when he arrived, his first directive was to “shoot the looters.” The U.S. military refused to carry it out.
Obama brought U.S. troops home in 2011. In attacks last month alone, ISIS killed at least 1,000 civilians, according to the United Nations.
“They make bin Laden's al-Qaeda look like Boy Scouts,” says Crocker.
TheWrap talked with award-winning “Losing Iraq” producer Michael Kirk about how he got his subjects to be so brutally honest.
TheWrap: It seems like people really had things they wanted to get off their chests.
Kirk: It was just amazing to us when all these guys, after ISIS came into the north, they all agreed to talk to us. Many of them were talking to the White House and then coming over and doing interviews with us. …
In that post-ISIS moment — just a week or two right after they grabbed all that land and were headed for Baghdad … that is a moment where people who had decided to keep their powder dry decided, OK, I'm going to enter the public discourse now, and talk about what I know, and what I remember, and what is happening that maybe we want to draw people's attention to. So that new policy can be discussed … but also so that maybe our role as an individual gets a little cleaned up.
There seems to be an “I told you so” attitude on the part of Petraeus and Crocker, who urged Obama not to leave Iraq too quickly.
I don't know if it's “I told you so,” but it's certainly “I said it out loud, everybody.” … Unfortunately, since 2011, all the major journalism institutions kind of walked away from Iraq to the extent that if these guys would have talked then, I don't know if their voices would have been heard. … I think we were at the front of the line.
Bremer admits that when he first arrived in 2003, he told the U.S. military to “shoot the looters” in the streets. He admits it was a mistake. Did he volunteer that to you?
The first interview. Yes, yes, yes. I couldn't believe it. … It's like they didn't know how stunning that really was. And still didn't know.
And you landed Petraeus in what must be his most in-depth interview since he left the CIA.
I don't know. I don't keep track of things like that. But it is true that I hadn't seen him anywhere else and I was very surprised that he agreed. … Martin Smith, who works at Frontline and is in Baghdad now, making the next part of this story — Marty read the interview, and he'd interviewed Petraeus a couple times, right after the invasion and then once a little while later. And he said it was the most open and in some ways relaxed Petraeus had been, that Marty had ever read or seen.
You have footage of U.S. troops handing over cash to Sunni fighters. Petraeus agreed to pay out $400 million in all, and he talks about it like it's the most natural thing in the world. Was that a bit of a shocker?
The extent of it was, yeah. … Yes. Shocker is one word for it. I was glad it was something we could get out in the open and get on the record and lay it out. It's obviously something many people knew or thought they knew, but needed both clarified and verified.
Obviously you didn't ask Petraeus about his reasons for leaving the CIA — the extramarital affair.
He would always say in response to that question… ‘It's the CIA and I can't really talk about it.’ [Laughs.] Forthcoming has its limits.
ISIS Violations Are an Islamic Responsibility
By Eyad Abu Shakra
30 July 2014
This year's American International Religious Freedom Report was prepared prior to the tragedy in Mosul, where Christians were forced to flee their homes. However, the report stated that 2013 witnessed the largest displacement of religious communities in modern history. “In almost every corner of the globe, millions of Christians, Muslims, Hindus, and others representing a range of faiths were forced from their homes on account of their religious beliefs. Out of fear or by force, entire neighborhoods are emptying of residents.”
I think there are two factors worth highlighting. The first one is the weakness of global leadership which is capable of resolving what's become a real crisis threatening several countries' stability across the world. The second one is the Muslim world's vision-related crisis. The repercussions of this crisis have begun to emerge either via the rise of desperate extremist movements that kill, destroy and displace in the name of Islam or via the harsh suffering of Muslims from racism coming from other religions and sects. Racists tend to pre-emptively inflict injustice on Muslims after enemies of Muslims associate the entire religion with terrorism and extremism.
This reminds me of a response I wrote a few years ago to an American journalist who attacked what he called "Islamic terrorism" holding Muslims responsible for it and accusing them of keeping silent over extremism, fanaticism and terrorism.
Back then, I said confronting any form of religious terrorism must be led by moderates in each religion and sect. It must not be led by religious extremists or fanatics from other religions and sects because extremism brings counter extremism while fanaticism brings counter fanaticism and creates excuses for it. I explained to the American journalist that the Western pragmatic mind must not expect the moderate Muslim to support campaigns by extremists of other religions on extremist Muslims. The same goes for any other religious group. For example, I don't think a liberal Christian will be happy if extremist Muslims or Jews or Buddhists or Hindus attack extremists of his faith, but he will not mind if the attack comes from his fellow moderate Christians who do not act upon a spirit of vengeance.
Extremism, fanaticism and religion are abrasions not monopolized by Muslims as they have existed for centuries. From the 1099 Crusaders' massacre in Jerusalem to the Spanish inspection courts to the displacement of Muslims and Jews during the Reconquista of the Iberian Peninsula. In more recent history, there was the Holocaust and the massacre that plagued the Indian subcontinent on the eve of Pakistan's independence.
Massacres are not exclusive to inter-faith conflict. Between 5,000 and 30,000 protestant Christian Huguenot were killed by armed Catholic groups on Saint Bartholomew Day in 1572 in France. The sectarian battles that marred the Irish Peninsula for decades between Catholics and Protestants are another example.
The language of extremism and fanaticism currently dominates around the world. India, the most populous democracy on the planet elected a prime minister accused of fanaticism and of colluding with extremist Hindus against the Muslim community of the state of Gujarat. The global command crisis, which I previously noted, can also be seen in another big democracy, the United States. It is clear that the retreat practiced by President Barack Obama’s administration has helped set instincts loose encouraging groups and people who do not respect coexistence to take control.
For example, the negative and shameful stance the United States took in Syria has been the best gift to extremists, who hijacked the Syrian revolution. These extremists have turned the revolution into a "Caliphate" project which they understand to be an authority to murder and eliminate others.
The negativity of Washington's policy is also shown in deceiving itself into thinking that it left Iraq safe and democratic. However we can all see the truth as Iraq is currently ripped by Sunni and Shiite extremist parties while Christians continue to be displaced. The Kurdish minorities are isolated from the blood swamp as they practically established their own independent entity.
The occupied territories in Palestine have always paid a high price for Washington's negativity towards Israel’s continued settlements and occupation. Washington has abstained from restraining Israeli settlers whom their leaders from the Likud party instigated the necessary conditions for the growth of an extremist Islamic movement that confronts Biblical slogans with Quranic ones, to the dismay of the logic of moderation on both sides.
The lack of leadership shown by Washington and the United Nations has led to an increase of intolerance and resentment all over the world.
This brings us to the second issue. Muslims have no other alternative than to save Islam’s reputation and cultural heritage. Muslims must act to protect their interests from the harm of those who claim to speak in the name of their religion and those who seek to monopolize it. At this point, the Muslims are to blame and the responsibility falls on them.
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) currently represents what al-Qaeda stood for in September 2001. Back then, the Muslim world was clear in its condemnation of the September 11 attacks. Al-Nusra Front, which markets itself as less extremist than the ISIS, has not abandoned its pledge of allegiance to al-Qaeda’s central leadership.
All in all, both groups, the ISIS and Al-Nusra, have provided an excuse for the international community to stab the Syrian people's uprising in the back and to overlook Iran's aims in the region and the Likud's crimes in the Palestinian Territories. Let us recall that most of ISIS’s fighting is against the revolutionary movements while Al-Nusra, whether it states it or not, has contributed to the inability to establish liberated zones capable of providing security and basic services.
Yes, Muslims, before anyone else, must take the initiative of confronting extremists from among them and of confirming the reality of tolerant Islam to the world.
The scenes of destruction in Mosul, Aleppo and Gaza eloquently summarize this tragedy.
Eyad Abu Shakra (also written as Ayad Abou-Chakra) began his media career in 1973 with Annahar newspaper in Lebanon. He joined Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper in the UK in 1979, occupying several positions including: Senior Editor, Managing Editor, and Head of Research Unit, as well as being a regular columnist. He has several published works, including books, chapters in edited books, and specialized articles, in addition to frequent regular TV and radio appearances.
In Mosul, Resistance against ISIS Rises from City’s Rubble
By Jean Marc Mojon and Ammar Karim
July 31, 2014
The dynamiting of some of Mosul’s most precious heritage has spurred a group of students and officers into the first act of armed resistance against the Iraqi city’s jihadist rulers. ISIS fighters have faced few challenges in holding the city since they took it over seven weeks ago, with Kurdish forces grounded at its gates and routed government forces in disarray.
But Anwar Ali, 23, hopes the snipers he said killed four jihadists Sunday had fired the opening shots of a broad popular uprising that will kick the ruling jihadists back into the desert.
“With a group of mainly students, but also young civil servants and merchants, I joined something we named the Mosul Battalions,” he told AFP.
“But some people suggested we rename it Nabi Younis Army in reaction to the blowing up by ISIS of the shrines.”
ISIS rigged the Nabi Younis shrine, revered by both Muslims and Christians as the tomb of Prophet Jonah, with explosives July 24 and blew it up in a public display of might.
Other precious monuments deeply rooted in Mosul’s rich history were reduced to rubble.
“This campaign of destruction of our mosques, churches and heritage sites is an attempt to suppress Mosul’s identity,” Anwar Ali said.
Many residents from Mosul’s Sunni majority who watched the fearsome jihadists roll in from the western territory on the Syrian border in June initially expressed relief at the riddance of a sectarian policing by Shiite-dominated government forces.
“The blowing up of the shrines was a turning point for people who had planned on delaying any clash with ISIS,” said Atheel al-Nujaifi, the governor of Mosul’s northern Nineveh province.
“The Mosul Brigades were supposed to come out of hiding later,” he said, speaking from Kurdistan, where he had to flee when ISIS took Mosul June 10.
An officer in the newly formed resistance group who asked that his name not be published said snipers picked off four ISIS militants in three different parts of Mosul at the weekend. Witnesses and Nujaifi spoke of five.
“We are now on duty. There will be more operations,” he said. “We warn the population not to cooperate with ISIS in any way.”
The demolitions even appear to have alienated some of ISIS’ traditional following.
“You claim to follow in the path of the Prophet [Mohammad], but you are the first to stray from his word,” said one member of a jihadist Internet forum, writing under the name Faruq al-Iraq.
He said there was no theological justification for destroying the shrines, an argument echoed by many other posts from users who, only weeks ago, had fully endorsed the “caliphate” proclaimed by ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi last month.
By blowing up some of the ancient city’s revered heritage, Mosul’s jihadist rulers may have become the architects of their own downfall, as fear slowly gives way to outrage.
“I think popular opposition may be the only way left to save the remaining historic monuments,” Ihsan Fethi, from the Iraq Architects Society, said after the first buildings destruction.
“I know I am asking and hoping for a very difficult action in view of the horrific record of these fanatics but some courage is needed now before it is too late,” he said.
There are signs that his wish could come true.
When ISIS militants announced that the “hunchback” (al-Hadba), a 12th century minaret that leans like the Tower of Pisa, was next some residents formed a human chain to protect it, witnesses said.
“That might just be what turns it around,” said Patrick Skinner, an analyst with the U.S.-based intelligence consultancy Soufan Group.
“ ISIS militants don’t have numbers on their side if enough people say enough,” he said. “There would be bloodshed, but they could kick ISIS out in hours.”
Mosul has a population of around 2 million while ISIS fighters in the city are thought to number between 5,000 and 10,000.
Skinner said the militants were likely aware they could be overplaying their hand by blowing up the Hadba, a national icon featured on 10,000 dinar banknotes.
“This is like Mosul’s own Eiffel Tower. I would think [its destruction] would trigger what is missing in Iraq: a national reaction ... So I imagine there’s a calculation on the part of ISIS.”
Nujaifi said a grassroots Sunni mobilization against ISIS was the necessary starting point of any fight back and he appealed for foreign assistance.
“For the moment, the Mosul Battalions have no funding and nothing but themselves.
“If they get support and supplies, they can defeat ISIS because they have support from a majority of Muslawis [Mosul residents],” the city’s governor said. “In the meantime, they can at least ensure that ISIS does not enjoy peace.”
What is ISIL?
By Taha Akyol
A few hundred people supporting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) gathered on a Bayram day in Istanbul’s distant Ömerli district, held prayers behind their special imams and they prayed to god that “all the mujahedeen engaged in the jihad hit their targets.”
It is a small, isolated, unimportant incident… But when we consider its massacres in Syria and Iraq, the $2 billion it has seized in banks, the Shiite mosques it has knocked down, it is possible to ignore ISIL? On the contrary, we should ponder and ponder again on why these things are happening in this era?
Here is a question that would make a good reference point to begin pondering: The terror organization ISIL, or with its new name the Islamic State (IS), is it an “issue” reflecting social diseases? Or is it a “project” staged by imperialists to denigrate Islam?
Issue or Project?
If we regard ISIL as an “issue,” then we will need to research with scientific methods to understand why these bigoted, savage movements emerge in Muslim societies from the Middle East to Afghanistan, to Pakistan.
If we regard ISIL as a “project” the thing to do is fight “imperialism.” In several Islamic websites and in some newspaper columns, while ISIL’s brutality is condemned, it is written that ISIL is a “project.”
“ISIL is a project developed and grown so ‘Islam and the IS are hated.’ Global powers are staging and supporting this so that Islam is seen as terror. It is serving their dirty ideals … The imperialists are using Muslims as tools to break up the Islamic geography.” (Faruk Köse, Yeni Akit, July 6, 2014)
It is good that such a determined stance is adopted against ISIL, but…
Should we not be thinking, why the Muslims are so easily tricked into the games of imperialism? Why those social disorders that the imperialists can so easily make a tool of are still present in Muslim societies in such abundance?
The answer to this is in the concept of “Medieval Age of Islam.”
President Abdullah Gül, two years ago, in a speech he delivered on Aug. 16, 2012 in a summit in Mecca said the sectarian fighting and violence would take Muslims to the darkness of the mediaeval ages, making a historic warning. This is what is being experienced now.
I have seen ISIL’s propaganda film on televisions. People being killed after being led down on the ground with their hands and feet tied, graves and mosques being knocked down… They only omit the poor girls they rape after declaring them concubines…
The only difference they have from the mediaeval ages is their weapons and their bulldozers…
The stoning to death, the concubines, the second-class status given to Christians, declaring someone an unbeliever and murdering them… Where do Taliban and ISIL get these from? They take them out of the old Islamic law books… In the Western Medieval ages, there are even more violent acts as burning people alive… Today, it is only read in mediaeval-age books and moved on… In the Middle East, though, it is being experienced! Well, this is the essential issue…
As the great thinker and poet from Pakistan, Muhammad Iqbal said in his “Reorganizing the religious thinking in Islam” that because the Islamic intellectuals could not develop a major breakthrough, the Taliban and ISIL are still being educated in old madrasas of the medieval ages. The views of those who have declared Ibn Sina and al-Farabi as unbelievers are being taught.
When one mentions the re-organization of Islamic thinking, I strongly recommend all of the books of the biggest living scholar of hadith, Professor Mehmet Hatiboglu. (Otto Publications.)
Turkey has a two-century-old background of modernization; it has come a long way on this road, but we also suffer from the Middle Eastern culture. There is an enormous spiritual responsibility falling on Islamic writers in the field of “renewing thoughts” for us to overcome all these. Isn’t it too much, this much of a political fight? Don’t we need to think and research on the “issue” and develop ideas?
Timeline of ISIS in Mosul
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) captured the city of Mosul, Iraq on June 10. Almost immediately thereafter it began to drive Assyrians out of Mosul and destroy Christian and non-Sunni institutions. Here is the status as of July 29:
There are no Assyrians/Christians remaining in Mosul, all have fled to the north, to Alqosh, Dohuk and other Assyrian villages.
All Christian institutions in Mosul (churches, monasteries and cemeteries), numbering 45, have been destroyed, occupied, converted to mosques, converted to ISIS headquarters or shuttered
All non-Sunni Muslim groups in Mosul -- Shabaks, Yazidis and Turkmen -- have been targeted by ISIS. Most have fled.
Water and electricity have been cut off by ISIS. The water shortage in the areas surrounding Mosul is now a full-blown crisis. Residents have been forced to dig wells for drinking water. Water tankers are providing some relief.
Mosul is now governed under Sharia law.
50,000 Assyrian residents of Baghdede (Qaraqosh) fled from fighting between ISIS and Kurds. Nearly 80% have returned.
The following is a summary of the events that have unfolded in Mosul.
June 10: ISIS captures Mosul, occupies the Assyrian village of Qaraqosh, enters the St. Behnam Monastery, bombs an Armenian church
June 12: ISIS issues Islamic rules for Mosul .
June 14: Assyrian, Yezidi and Shabak Villages come under Kurdish Control .
June 15: Kurds attempt to remove an Assyrian council leader in Alqosh and replace him with a Kurd (story).
June 18: ISIS Cuts Off Water, Electricity, Destroys Churches .
June 19: ISIS destroys statue of the famous Arab poet Abu Tammam .
June 21: ISIS begins imposing a poll tax (Jizya) on Assyrians in Mosul (story), orders unmarried women to 'Jihad by sex' (story), destroys the statue of the Virgin Mary at the Immaculate Church of the Highest in the neighborhood of Al Shafa in Mosul, as well as the statue of Mullah Osman Al-Musali. Shiite Turkmen in the villages of AlKibba and Shraikhan flee after receiving threats from ISIS. ISIS arrests 25 village elders and young men who are Turkmen in the village of Al Shamsiyat; their whereabouts is still unknown. (Story) ISIS orders Christian, Yazidis and Shiite government employees not to report for work in Mosul (story).
June 23: ISIS Rape Christian Mother and Daughter, Kill 4 Christian Women for Not Wearing Veil .
June 25: ISIS limits water from the plants in Mosul to one hour per day. Residents in surrounding areas are forced to dig wells .
June 26: Kurds Clash with ISIS near Assyrian Town East of Mosul, forcing nearly 50,000 Assyrians to flee .
ISIS begins confiscating the homes of Christians and non-Sunni Muslims. ISIS rounds up many of the security agency members of the police and army in Sabrine Mosque and asks them to declare "repentance" and surrender their weapons and other military equipment. After doing so, all of the prisoners are tried and sentenced according to Sharia law and executed. ISIS has prevented delivery of government food rations to Tel Kepe and other areas not under their control (story).
June 28: ISIS kidnaps two nuns and three Assyrian orphans. They are eventually released (story).
July 3: ISIS seizes the house of the Chaldean Patriarchate and the house of Dr. Tobia, a member of Hammurabi Human Rights Organization and an Advisor to the Governor of Nineveh on Minority Affairs and General Coordinator with International Organizations (story).
July 8: ISIS Removes Cross From Church in Mosul .
July 10: ISIS bars women from walking the streets unless accompanied by a male. Nearly all barber shops and womens' salons are closed .
July 15: ISIS Stops Rations for Christians and Shiites in Mosul .
July 17: ISIS issues statement ordering Christians to convert or die (story).
July 18: ISIS in Mosul marks Christian homes with the Arabic letter "N" (for the word Nasrani, which means Christian) .
July 19: ISIS plunders Assyrians as they Flee Mosul; families march 42 miles (story).
July 22: ISIS and Kurds clash near Assyrian town, 2000 Assyrian families driven from Mosul .
July 25: ISIS destroys the tomb of the Prophet Jonah .
Intervention, evasion, destabilisation
By Brahma Chellaney
July 31, 2014
If Libya, Syria and Iraq are coming undone and Ukraine has been gravely destabilised, it is the result of interventions by big powers that claim to be international law enforcers when, in reality, they are lawbreakers
Big powers over the years have targeted specific regimes by arming rebel groups with lethal weapons, thereby destabilising some states and contributing to the rise of dangerous extremists and terrorists. The destabilisation of Ukraine, Syria, Iraq and Libya, among other states, is a result of such continuing geopolitical games.
It is the local people who get killed, maimed and uprooted by the interventions of major powers and their regional proxies. Yet those who play such games assume a moral posture to rationalise their interventionist policies and evade responsibility for the consequences of their actions. Indeed, they paint their interference in the affairs of other sovereign states as aimed at fighting the “bad” guys.
Cold War Echo
Take the blame game over the downing of Flight MH 17, which was shot down by a surface-to-air missile (SAM), allegedly fired by eastern Ukraine’s Russian-speaking separatists, a number of whom have clearly been trained and armed by Russia. Russia’s aid to the separatists and Washington’s security assistance to the government in Kiev, including providing vital intelligence and sending American military advisers to Ukraine, is redolent of the pattern that prevailed during the Cold War, when the two opposing blocs waged proxy battles in countries elsewhere.
Today, with the Ukrainian military shelling rebel-held cities and Russia massing heavy weapons and troops along the frontier, the crisis threatens to escalate to a direct U.S.-Russia confrontation, especially if Moscow directly intervenes in eastern Ukraine in response to the worsening humanitarian crisis there. The United Nations says the fighting in eastern Ukraine has uprooted more than 230,000 residents. Over 27,000 of them have taken sanctuary in Russia.
After the MH 17 crash, U.S. President Barack Obama was quick to hold Russia and its President, Vladimir Putin, guilty in the global court of opinion over the downing and to spotlight Russian aid to the separatists. Through sanctions and diplomacy, Mr. Obama has steadily ratcheted up pressure on Mr. Putin to stop assisting the rebels. Yet, Mr. Obama has had no compunction in gravely destabilising Syria through continuing covert aid to “moderate” militants there. The aid is being channelled through the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the jihad-bankrolling oil sheikhdoms.
Mr. Obama set out on the mission of regime change in Syria by seizing the opportunity that opened up in 2011, when popular protests broke out in some cities against President Bashar al-Assad’s autocratic rule. The detention and torture of a group of schoolchildren, who had been caught scribbling anti-government graffiti in the city of Deraa, led to protests and demands for political reforms and a series of events that rapidly triggered an armed insurrection with external assistance.
From bases in Turkey and Jordan, the rebels — with the clandestine assistance of the U.S., Britain and France — established a Free Syrian Army, launching attacks on government forces. Washington and its allies simultaneously mounted an intense information war demonising Mr. Assad and encouraging officers and soldiers to desert the Syrian military and join the Free Syrian Army.
It is clear three years later that their regime-change strategy has backfired: Not only has it failed to oust Mr. Assad, it has turned Syria into a failed state and led to the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant — a brutal, medieval organisation seeking to establish a caliphate across the Middle East and beyond. With radical jihadists now dominating the scene, the Free Syrian Army has become a marginal force, despite the CIA continuing to train and arm its members in Jordan.
Had Mr. Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President François Hollande not embarked on this strategy — which helped instil the spirit of jihad against the Assad regime and opened the gates to petrodollar-financed weapons to Syrian jihadists — would murderous Islamists be in control of much of northern Syria today? It was this control that served as the staging ground for the rapid advance of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant into Iraq. This group now is in a position to potentially use water as a weapon through its control of the upstream areas along the Euphrates and Tigris rivers in Syria and Iraq, including important dams.
By inadvertently turning Syria into another Afghanistan — and a threat to regional and international security — the interveners failed to heed the lessons from the CIA’s funnelling of arms to the Afghan Mujahideen (or self-proclaimed “holy warriors” of Islam) in the 1980s. The funnelling of arms — partly financed by Saudi Arabia and some other oil sheikhdoms — was a multibillion-dollar operation against the Soviet forces in Afghanistan that gave rise to al-Qaeda and monsters like Osama bin Laden and Mullah Mohammad Omar, chief of the Taliban who remains holed up in Pakistan. It ranked as the largest covert operation in the CIA’s history.
Now, consider a different case where a regime-change strategy spearheaded by the U.S., Britain and France succeeded — Libya. The ouster of Col. Muammar Qadhafi’s government through U.S.-led aerial bombardment in 2011, however, ended up fomenting endless conflict, bloodletting and chaos in Libya.
The virtual crumbling of the Libyan state, more ominously, has had major international implications — from the cross-border leakage of shoulder-fired SAMs from the Qadhafi-built arsenal, including to Syrian jihadists, to the flow of other Libyan weapons to al-Qaeda-linked groups in the arid lands near the Sahara desert known as the Sahel region. Nigeria’s Boko Haram extremists have also tapped the Libyan arms bazaar.
The weapons that Qatar and, on a smaller scale, the United Arab Emirates shipped to Libyan rebels with U.S. approval, including machine guns, automatic rifles and ammunition, have not only destabilised Libya but also undermined security in Mali, Niger and Chad. These weapons had been handed out like candy to foment the uprising against Qadhafi.
There cannot be better proof of how the toppling of Qadhafi has boomeranged than the fact that the U.S., whose ambassador was killed in a 2012 militant attack in Benghazi, the supposed capital of the Libyan “revolution,” has now shut its embassy in Tripoli, citing increasing lawlessness. The predawn evacuation of its entire embassy staff to Tunisia, with U.S. warplanes providing air cover, represented a public admission of defeat.
The plain truth is that it is easier for outside forces to topple or undermine a regime than to build stability and security in the targeted country. With neighbourhoods becoming battlefields, Iraq, Syria and Libya are coming undone. Another disintegrating state is Afghanistan, where Mr. Obama is seeking to end the longest war in American history.
Marginalisation of U.N
Such is the United Nations’ marginalisation in international relations that it is becoming irrelevant to the raging conflicts. To make matters worse, the U.N. Security Council’s five permanent members, although tasked by the U.N. Charter to preserve international peace and security, have helped spark or fuel regional conflicts and aided the rise of insurgent groups through their interventionist and arms-transfer policies. These five powers — all nuclear-armed — account for more than 80 per cent of the world’s official exports of conventional weapons and most of the unofficial transfers. Chinese arms, for example, have proliferated to a number of guerrilla groups active in Africa and Asia, including insurgents in India’s northeast.
The only mechanism to enforce international law is the Security Council. Yet, its permanent members have repeatedly demonstrated that great powers use, not respect, international law. They have a long history of ignoring international rules when these conflict with their plans. In other words, the international law enforcers are the leading lawbreakers.
Mr. Obama, in toppling Qadhafi through the use of air power, and Mr. Putin, in annexing Crimea, paradoxically cited the same moral principle that has no force in international law — “responsibility to protect.” Indeed, the transition from the 20th to the 21st centuries heralded the open flouting of international law, as represented by the bombing of Serbia, the separation of Kosovo from Serbia, and the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. Against this background, it is scarcely a surprise that, despite the continuing rhetoric of a rules-based international order, the world is witnessing the triumph of brute force in the 21st century.
If the Security Council is to act more responsibly, its permanent members must look honestly at what they are doing to undermine international peace and security. This can happen only if the Council’s permanent membership is enlarged and the veto power abolished to make decision-making in that body truly democratic.
Brahma Chellaney is a geostrategist and the author, most recently, of Water, Peace, and War, Oxford University Press, 2014.