Monday, June 30, 2014
Obama Repeats Bush's Mistakes: The Mess in Iraq
US finds itself in the same camp as Iran -Zvi Mazel
America has time and time again initiated moves which set it at odds with its traditional allies in the Middle East, to the extent that today it can only watch impotently developments in the region.
ISIS – the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria – is a jihadist terrorist organization that has already taken large areas in Syria and made significant gains in Iraq. It is now in the process of setting up a hard-core Islamic state in the heart of the Middle East.
[I]t is to be deplored that Arab countries in the region are unequal to the task of overcoming an organization numbering no more than a few thousand terrorists. On the other hand, since the end of the WWII these countries have squandered their efforts and their resources in internecine warfare and in the conflict with Israel, secure in the knowledge that the US or the Soviet Union would come to the rescue if needed.
The greatest world power thus finds itself not only without a viable course of action in Iraq, but without the allies that might have made such a course possible.
Washington seems to have grasped the extent of its predicament. Secretary of State John Kerry has been making the rounds of Arab states to see whether he can cobble together a coalition to act in Syria and Iraq.
He came to Cairo bearing gifts, and pledged to unfreeze speedily the dispatch of Apache helicopters badly needed by Egypt to fight jihadist terrorists in the Sinai Peninsula.
Having gotten rid of the Muslim Brotherhood [Egyptians] thought that America would applaud and offer them help. There are signs that Washington has grasped at last the importance of Egypt as a stabilizing factor in the region.
Unfortunately, it was not the only miscalculation of America’s foreign policy. Washington had offended long-time allies, such as Saudi Arabia, a staunch friend since 1940. Riyadh is still bitter at what it perceives as American treachery in entering secret negotiations with Tehran on Iran’s nuclear program.
In Syria, America could not decide on a course of action. Not only it did not contribute to the fall of Assad, it did not back the moderate Sunni elements that were fighting the dictator, and thus indirectly contributed to the rise of ISIS.
Washington also lost influence in Libya, after leading from behind the European efforts to topple Muammar Gaddafi and is now watching helplessly as the country is plunged into chaos. Granted, Arab states are no poster for democracy and their people generally dislike the West and the United States, but a great power must act according to its own interests and cannot afford to be sanctimonious.
During his recent visit, Kerry repeated that Washington was urging the ruler of Baghdad to form a national unity government with the Sunnis. Something akin to treating a terminal disease with placebos.
Unfortunately, America’s ill-advised policy after conquering Baghdad in 2003 is at the root of today’s problem. The Iraqi Army was disbanded, the civil service dissolved, and the power – held for so long by the Sunni minority – handed over to the Shi’ites, who promptly initiated discriminatory measures against the Sunni minority while moving closer to Shia Iran, the enemy of the West.
Obama has withdrawn American soldiers from Iraq; had they stayed they would have given ISIS a real fight. On the other hand, he was only fulfilling a pledge made by former president George W. Bush.
Besides, who would have thought that a regular army with hundreds of thousands of soldiers trained by American experts would disintegrate when faced by a few thousands terrorists, however well organized? Though Nouri al-Maliki, head of the Iraqi government, is primarily to blame for having gone too far against the Sunni population, the Americans planted the seeds in 2003.
A brutal, extremist militant Islamic state is coming into being in the heart of the Middle East. It will become a bastion of terrorism unleashing its attacks against neighboring countries and sending its faithful on operations in Europe and the United States.
America, having painted itself into a corner, will watch helplessly as chaos spreads and threatens the West.
Iraqi "Nation State" Idiocy -Yisrael Ne'eman
The West is once again playing "make believe" in claiming that Iraq is a secular nation state similar to those in Europe. The EU and Americans continue in the ridiculous policy of calling for "unity" between Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds in the hope everyone will rally around the Iraqi flag.
Policy makers need to refrain from defining either Iraq or Syria as "states," they are rather broken down entities reforming themselves into new political frameworks.
The West must internalize [this]. If not, tried and true failed policies will repeat themselves without end.
American and western attempts at peace or conflict resolution are useless and just going through the motions. The Islamist perspective of an ever expanding homeland transcending artificial boundaries is the reality. The USA/West have no real policy options. Intervention is of no use and will only result in casualties with no democratic influence or change of lifestyle. Non-intervention is seen as "accepting defeat" but no one truly believes this is a war that can be won by the secular and/or democratic West harboring ideals so far removed from Jihadi Islam and the Ba'ath leadership of today. In essence the West must accept this reality.
So what is the solution? Strange as it may sound the West must let Iran get directly involved on the side of the Iraqi Shiites without easing up on any sanctions or forming an alliance of any sort. Iran and their Hezbollah proxies are already deeply involved in rescuing the Assad regime from extinction. It is likewise in their interests to save Shiite eastern Iraq. Many conservatives demand some form of western intervention to halt the ISIL advance and to keep Iranian influence from dominating eastern Iraq. [But b]ombings and drone strikes will do little good against the ISIL and even "boots on the ground" may win a temporary victory for al-Maliki but as we have seen, once the Americans/EU are gone it is all back to square one of sectarian and religious slaughter.
Secondly, Iran is the most influential factor in Shiite Iraq, it is about time they paid for it. Why should the West commit unlimited amounts of men and resources in the name of Iranian influence? Democratizing Iraq is not about to happen anytime soon. The Islamic Awakening of 2011 (it was never an "Arab Spring") will continue for at least a generation (and most likely two) before the next step of true democratic ideals will permeate the Middle East...
And let it be repeated - there should be no deals and no lessening of sanctions [against Iran].
[T]he Iranians will be forced to fight rather than allow Baghdad to fall to ISIL with the resulting expulsions, Shiite flight, massive refugee problems and massacres. Iran will be involved in a two-front war (Syria and Iraq) with its resources stretched to the maximum. Such economic weakening may cause more instability in Tehran and the accompanying demands for reforms. Without a credible liberalization process the ayatollahs may face a rebellion.
The Middle East looks to be on the verge of a total Shiite-Sunni clash and ensuing slaughter crossing European imposed state borders some one hundred years ago.
Tehran's over investment militarily and financially may well lead to internal instability.
So what's the bottom line? We can expect an intensified Jihadi extremism to sweep the Arab/Muslim Middle East and Islamic World. Such extremism will continue spilling over state boundaries or arise from fanatical movements within those countries. Lebanon, Jordan and Yemen may all be on the brink due to outside pressures and those from within. Only the non-Arab Kurds, who control no recognized state, exhibit political unity and command and control of their army in the field.
The West faces the dilemma of defending its own interests while not being sucked into an unwinnable war where one is never sure which side to support. In other words there do not seem to be any "good guys," only unsavory characters who may turn on you at any moment.
A policy of "minimalism" may be the order of the day whereby the West only gets involved in a pinpoint fashion to protect strategic interests and/or when the opportunity arises to bring stability.
[Mideast: On Target]