In unleashing the war in Iraq in March 2003 in order to start implementing its plan of the democratization of the “Greater Middle East” by American standards, Washington had not yet realized that this was the beginning of the end of the U.S. presence in the region and in a whole, the end of the American empire with all its global ambitions. Now the White House is convulsing, torn between Ukraine, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria, they no longer possess the sufficient forces to enact their will. The U.S. is not the same, and America is no longer an empire. It is all logical; it all began with Iraq and it will all end most likely with Iraq. It will not be in the least bit surprising if we soon are presented the picture, already familiar to many by the 1976 evacuation from Saigon, another similar situation unfold whereby a U.S. Air Force helicopter takes off from the roof of the American Embassy in Baghdad with its ambassador and last diplomats. And around it will rage a crowd of armed Islamist militants, numbering in the thousands, generated by U.S. policy who they themselves had conceived in the 80s in order to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan. From the events of September 11, 2001, Washington learned nothing. And that is particularly evident in Iraq today.
Despite the declarations of bravado coming from the N. al-Maliki regime on the successful counter-offensive against ISIS forces, militants in that organization, in Iraq only (without Syria) exceed 30 thousand “jihadi soldiers”, continue to control more than 30 % of Iraqi territory and are ready to go on the offensive for Baghdad. To achieve this goal ISIS forces have somewhat adopted the tactics of guerilla warfare, infiltrating the Iraqi capital and numerous other large cities in the Shi’a south; in cities such as Karbala, Nedjaf, Bashra, Nasiriyah etc., there are hundreds of terrorists and saboteurs who are active. When they accumulate sufficient forces and possess the means, they begin attacking the ruling Shiite regime from the inside with external support. A guerrilla attacks from inside major cities cannot be deterred by the use of helicopters, tanks, artillery, nor with Iranian or U.S. Marines on the ground.
It is not for nothing that the United States sent in an additional 100 Marines who arrived in Baghdad the day before yesterday in order to enhance the security of the American embassy. Another 275 soldiers simultaneously began to evacuate its diplomatic staff in the Iraqi capital, as well as in Basra, Erbil and Amman. “Teachers” are well aware of what these militants are capable of, these “disciples”, who are willing to skin the “infidels” alive, foreigners and Muslims who they deem as “traitors”. In Syria, it was well demonstrated when cameras caught an ISIS warlord ate the heart of a Syrian soldier. Therefore, it is not clearly understandable that the West would be outraged by ISIS fighters for beheading 1700 Shiite Iraqi soldiers and executed 10 Sunni clerics who refused to serve the radical Wahhabi terrorists. After all, it was the West was silent when these same cannibals were committing such atrocities in Syria. It is understandable in the fact that, the U.S. wanted to achieve the overthrow of the Assad regime at any cost, and not discounting anything, willing to even use the services of Al-Qaeda jihadists who were the masterminds behind the Twin Tower attacks in New York in 2001.
After all, petrodollars for the Americans does not smell of blood, especially their own. The Americans unleashed “flowered revolutions” in the Middle East for the sake of oil and gas; it had absolutely nothing to do with the spread of democracy. Now it is only the interests of Exxon-Mobil, Chevron, Shell, BP and other American and British companies in Iraq, and in the region as a whole, who are under threat. In addition, other foreign oil companies, including Russian Lukoil and Gazprom Neft, which also operate in Iraq, are facing the same threat. And in order to maintain and save their oil interests, the White House entered into an unprecedented dialog with its worst enemy in the region, Iran. The U.S. and Iran have been bitter rivals for 35 years. For the sake of money, it is possible to come to terms with even Khomeini’s revolutionaries. And it is this which is being discussed, joint military action in on Iraq, Iran committing soldiers in the defense of Iraq against ISIS forces and the U.S. employing airstrikes on ISIS bases. Who could have imagined such a military alliance a week ago? So, the situation in Iraq seems to be quite bad. And the UN acted properly, starting with the June 16th evacuation of personnel from Iraq of its institutions. Islamists cannot be reasoned with where there are Anglo-Saxons, French, Germans, Indians or the Chinese.
But the situation in Iraq is worse than initially many international analysts believed, thinking that the events in Mosul was just some sort of armed uprising by ISIS and other radical Islamists.
It is now clear that this was openly discussed in Iraqi Kurdistan by 71 year old Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, the former “Number 2” and Deputy Revolutionary Command Council under Saddam Hussein, his deputy in the Baath Party, and the Deputy Chief of the Armed Forces. He, by the way, at this current stage, is the ideal candidate to unite all the Iraqi Sunnis. As a professional soldier, from the beginning he opposed the American occupation forces. Al-Douri is a devout Muslim and is personally acquainted with the heads of the most powerful Sunni tribes of Iraq, princes and sheikhs of Sunni monarchies in Arabia as well as in Jordan. Moreover, it was he who under international sanctions during the period of Saddam’s rule, carried out secret visits to Saudi Arabia and was received by the king. In addition, he was and remains a staunch member of the Baath Party. Many Sunnis do not accept radical Islamists. As a former deputy chief, l-Douri can easily unite thousands of officers were left on the outside after the disbanding of the Iraqi by decision of the U.S. in 2003 after the occupation of the country. They can join or have already joined the major Sunni tribes of western, northern and central Iraq. At the disposal of these tribes are tens of thousands of young men, and thus tens of thousands of fighters.
The fact that the current armed conflict involves supporters of Saddam is highlighted by the very fact that the center of the events occurred in Mosul. This city has always been the main stronghold of the Arab nationalist Baath ideology and Saddam’s ideology. While al-Douri, being a devout Muslim, is quite acceptable figure for jihadists from ISIS, at least from a purely tactical point of view. This old ally of Saddam is probably the only person who could return power back to the Sunnis in Baghdad. The Americans even knew it, and offered ten million dollars for the head of al-Douri, but could not find him, even though he was in hiding somewhere in northern Iraq.
Of course, on the other side of the equation, the Shiites also understand how dangerous the situation is for them. We are talking after all about their power, their religion and their survival as an equal part of Iraqi society. ISIS militants consider them heretics, and not faithful Muslims. They scream about the intention to destroy the Shiite shrines in Najaf, Karbala and Samarra. The spiritual leader of Iraq’s Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the Shia leader, until recently insisted on reconciliation between the parties, has called on his supporters to begin a “holy war”. In Baghdad and southern Iraq, thousands of people have enlisted in the volunteer corps. That is why ISIS fighters could not take Baghdad with one “sudden attack” on June 14. Prime Minister N. al-Maliki, being a Shiite, also attempted with his rhetoric to unite the nation, which is on the verge of disintegration. However, his political position in the country after the shameful collapse of the government army has been seriously weakened.
June 16 at Kirkuk was another attempt to break through to Baghdad, but local tribes managed to repel the armed militias. In Baghdad in the meantime, mobilization has been undertaken. As a backdrop to the ISIS movement in Iraq, Iran’s armed forces have increased their presence along the Iran-Iraq border. Deputy Commander of Land Forces of Iran, Brigadier General Kimar Heydari, said that the army “is closely following the developments in Iraq, so that in due time it can repel the militants”.
However, the continuing militant offensive and the regular terrorist attacks carried out on June 15-16 that claimed dozens of lives in Baghdad, has given reason for U.S. policymakers and President Barack Obama’s to seek for renewed cooperation with their Arab “partners” to counter the armed militant insurgency. “You simply just cannot launch missiles and go home”, said Mike Rogers, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, as reported on Fox News. According to the congressman and his supporters, what is happening in Iraq goes far beyond the borders of the country and is a serious problem, because some of the members of the group “Islamic State in Iraq and Syria” have EU passports that allow them to travel freely in Europe and the USA. Rogers argues that associated with Al-Qaeda are groups such ISIS are “hardened combat veterans”. He, however, did not say that the “hardening” went into Syria on Saudi and Qatari cash and into camps in Turkey and Jordan with the help of the CIA instructors. “It’s Disneyland for jihadists, and we must do something to stem the tide”, he said. And Senator Lindsey Graham, a member of the Armed Services Committee, said on the CBS program, Face the Nation, “If the U.S. did not immediately take action to stop the advance of the Islamists in Baghdad, then the next terrorist attack like that of September 11, 2001 will come from Iraq or Syria. “We need to send the air force to immediately stop the advance on to Baghdad,” insists Graham. According to him, another terrorist attack of 9/11 is inevitable, because Islamists do not hide their intentions and seek to establish an Islamic caliphate. “They will attack us here at home”, says the senator. Thus, American politicians reacted to the statement made by U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday, declaring that he did not intend on sending troops to Iraq. Senator Graham agrees, however, in order to enact a resolution to the situation in Iraq, it requires a political plan. He believes that by supporting Baghdad, Washington “almost inevitably” will be forced to rely on Iran in the same way it sought an alliance with Stalin to defeat Nazi Germany during World War II.
Americans are exhausted by the years of war and conflict, of the endless dispatching of American soldiers to the Middle East, where in return, they see coffins or returning disabled soldiers. Currently there is much debate on who is responsible for this situation. Many people ask the question, is Obama to blame? Or are his predecessors, in particular, Bush, to blame? Currently, what is most important is a resolution to the situation in Iraq is achieved. Blame can be sorted out later. One thing is clear though, the U.S. does not want to once again dive into the same Iraqi river, as it is unsure how it will all end. Especially since Washington as pulled itself into a parallel situation with the Ukrainian conflict that escalates daily from being a military confrontation into civil war.
Meanwhile, many in the West, including in the U.S., ask when will Americans recognize that the overthrow of the dictator is not always a positive effect on foreign policy, and when will they realize that the imposition of Western liberal democracy in the wrong geopolitical conditions tends to lead to total failure and is a detriment for Washington itself? In the American media it is increasingly possible to find such direct questions: what good has resulted in the destruction of Saddam Hussein and Gaddafi? And again, do Americans really believe that after the overthrow of Assad, the situation will improve? Sometimes there is a feeling that Obama asks himself the same questions.
To start a new ambitious imperial project, and associated with attempts to compensate for the economic and cultural degradation of military superiority, the U.S. government took advantage of the catastrophic events of September 11, 2001. The “Greater Middle East” had to be reconstructed, and the economic, political, cultural sources of jihadi terrorism had to go with the help of moderate Islam. This is not the time to remember the history of Afghanistan, the two Iraq wars or the scandals surrounding torture at Abu Ghraib prison. In order to understand that this project crashed, just look around. In Afghanistan, the Taliban again is about to seize power again, Pakistan is on the verge of collapse, Libya is de facto already broken, Egypt is with great difficulty stepping back from the disaster it faced after the brief reign of the Muslim Brotherhood that came to power with the support of the United States, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. And Syria was plunged into the abyss of civil war for three years, fought off an Islamist triumph only through the cohesion of President Assad’s army, as well as assistance from Russia, Iran and Hezbollah.
In this situation, radical jihadist Islam, in other words, Al-Qaeda and its affiliated organizations such as ISIS quickly began to emerge from the wreckage of Iraq, where they were unable to establish roots in the period under Saddam. A similar pattern was observed in Libya. Using jihadist groups, the U.S. and Europe overthrew Gaddafi, and thus destroying the Libyan state and society. Meanwhile, the military arsenals of the old Gaddafi regime that passed into their control were sold all over the “Greater Middle East” and Central Africa by Al-Qaeda cells. Activity of jihadist groups began to grow in North and East Africa, in countries such as Mali, Nigeria, Kenya and Somalia. Recollecting itself, the U.S. launched the war against terrorism, but in North and Central Africa, as well as in the Middle East, more than 50 jihadist organizations sprung up, and the number of jihad fighters exceeded 100 thousand, including citizens of EU countries.
After the Libyan fiasco, the West on their own, along with Qatari and Saudi money armed the rebels against the Assad regime, with the goal to keep Iran in check. Iranian influence in the region was increasing sharply. And thus, the Americans with their friends and allies were reduced to depending on ordinary mutiny and a bloody civil war. From the moment jihadist organizations such as ISIS and Dzhabgat en Nusra crossed into Syria, the war of Sunnis and Shiites went beyond Iraq. Over the course of a Sunni-Shiite war, jihadist organizations, thanks to the support from the West and oil monarchies of Arabia and Turkey, have grown in strength, and have gained experience through conflict, sabotage; they have experience fighting in cities and have created a single battlefield covering large swaths of territory of Iraq and Syria. They now have the ability to spread that terror to neighboring countries. And on that territory that stretches from the eastern regions of Syria to Iraqi Kurdistan and all the way to Mosul, ISIS has emerged as the most effective militant group and has begun building its own Caliphate.
The events of the Arab Spring, the Syrian civil war and opposition to Iran’s nuclear program have conclusively demonstrated the inability of the U.S. to manage events in the region. In some Arab countries, including Turkey, periodical publications have been appearing dealing with the “Post-American Middle East”. Moreover, this Middle East imperial project by Washington has, step by step, inflicted a blow on to the rights and freedoms of U.S. citizens. Intelligence organizations were not only aimed at other countries, but they also began monitoring U.S. citizens and destroying their privacy. As was reported last week by The Guardian, the U.S. government, the Pentagon with the aid of educational institutions intends to explore methods of forecasting and monitoring forms of civil disobedience. In other words, the U.S. Army is preparing to fight with their citizens.
So, the current events in Iraq are more than just a military conflict. It is a turning point in the history of the Middle East and the entire system of international relations. Especially since they coincided in time with Washington’s attempt to implement its other imperial project, to subdue the European Union through the redistribution of the European gas market to its own advantage, the weakening of Russia, even if they have to destroy Ukraine as a state in the process. Aggressive U.S. policies towards Iraq and Ukraine are the turning point in world history.
Peter Lvov is a Ph.D of Political Science and a Columnist for the internet journal, New Eastern Outlook