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Who Is To Blame For Iraq?

Politics / Iraq War Jun 13, 2014 - 12:02 PM GMT

By: Andrew_McKillop

Politics

Bloomberg Tells All
In a strange article signed only “The Editors” and posted to Bloomberg's web sites, 13 June, its few published Comments were mostly flippant. One said Iraq is or was an illusion that could only be propped up by bombs, but destroying the illusion would also need bombs – therefore Iraq was or is a paradox. In fact, as I have argued in several articles, Iraq was an artificial entity, not created for any specific purpose other than developing its then unknown-size oil resources, without any credible claims to national identity – or unity – and created with no particular life expectancy or “shelf life”, that is either short, medium or long. Concerning the Kurds, however, the Iraq of post-1923 obliterated an existing and functional national entity – Kurdistan – which as we know has returned to the headlines, this week, because it can and will effectively resist any attempt by ISIS, formerly 'Al Qaeda in Iraq' to encroach on Kurdistan. Kirkuk is probably now under Kurd military control.


The Bloomberg writers who call themselves “The Editors” claim to know that Nouri el-Maliki, Iraq's Shia prime minister, sitting on a time bomb, has “turned to Iran because the US has not acted quickly enough”. In other words he is a stooge of Iran.

If that was so, which is possible (but a hostage of Iran may be more accurate), there is no real sense or rationale for US military support to el-Maliki's regime. The US will be allying with Iran.

This is clear. If el-Maliki's regime is prevented from collapsing by the US and its major European allies, they will have effectively allied with Iran to save him. US President Obama has already said that America's own national security is threatened in Iraq “and is clearly an emergency situation”. Saving prime minister el-Maliki will also mean that the US and its western allies have admitted, accepted and acknowledged the reality of Independent Kurdistan.

They will therefore be part of a theoretical Trilateral Regency ruling the future Iraq – controlled by a Trilateral group of Iran, Kurdistan and the West. Is this credible and does it make sense?

Not Much Sense
The Iraq of 1923 resulted from intensive backroom dealing in the later conferences of the 1919-1923 series called “the Versailles Treaty”, mainly covering German war reparations and the dismantling of German colonies, but also concerning the break-up of the Ottoman Empire which allied with Germany in World War I. These “treaty series”, some of them directly concerning the Middle East continued until the 1930s. The various territorial frameworks and borders of Iraq coming out of these conferences and backroom map-drawing exercizes were at least as unrealistic as those of the future Syria, which was created – or cobbled together – at the same time.

As we know, the future Lebanon and Palestine were also created by the same process, which “derecognized” Kurdistan – the only existing and credible national entity in the region at the time! The Kurdish explanation of why it was “derecognized” features the Kurdish belief that, at the time, Kurdistan's large oil reserves were relatively known, and appeared to possibly outstrip the oil resource potential of the future Iraq. So Kurdistan had to go.

The future Iraq, unfortunately like the future Syria was an open invitation or incitation to sectarian and community conflict. Today, a sectarian war has rekindled in Iraq. In months or even weeks the former “united nation with secure and recognized borders” may well be divided among its warring Sunni and Shia regions, parts or zones, and the only real nation in the area, Kurdistan.

Bloomberg journalists calling themselves “The Editors” ask if that would that be so very bad? The answer, for them, is very bad. The main reason, for Bloomberg's journalists, would be rising levels of sectarian violence sealing the uncontrolled breakup of Iraq, and leading to a full-scale regional Shia-Sunni war, led on both sides by radical Islamists hostile to the West.

In fact a “regional Shia-Sunni war” means Iran versus Saudi Arabia, but Bloomberg journalists are too polite (or forgetful) to tell us which regional and external powers have been, and are continuing to foment a war between Iran and Saudi Arabia. This kind and type of apocalyptic military and sectarian conflict would – obviously – be “rather bad” for oil supply security! Preventing that Apocalypse Now is the only sane course.

Obama Hesitates
Syrian hesitation was the trial run, for Obama. Not doing anything turned out a wiser option than bombing Damascus, felling the regime of Bashr el Assad and enabling ISIS and its allies to take power in a Syrian battlefield – which will go on being a sectarian battlefield. In no way would ISIS rule be accepted by Syrian Kurds and Christians, for example. Nor by Syrian Armenians, and certainly not by Syrian Alawites or Druzes, and so on.

Nouri el-Maliki supposedly turned to Iran because Obama would not act fast enough. President Barack Obama, as of 13 June, has yet to respond to el-Maliki's request for airstrikes, though Obama listed the help Iraq is already receiving. Obama of course added that “no options have been ruled out – except boots on the ground”.

Apart from the extreme high costs of Bush's Iraq war, a full decade of bad experiences for the USA from direct military meddling in Iraq has cooled heads and focused minds.

One somber but real fact stands out. The Bush-Blair war of 2003 to unseat (and finally kill) Saddam Hussein sealed the fate and closed the work of fiction called “Iraq”. The monster left behind was firstly Al Qaeda in Iraq, later growing and mutating to become ISIS. This is the much larger, better-funded, better-organized, and massively armed successor to AQI, which the US Army had partly-defeated in the 2005-2008 surge period.

The “declared aims” of ISIS include the Grand Caliphate, which would range across a lot of real estate and could or might even include Cyprus, Albania (and why not Kosovo?). More focused and shorter-term aims feature the destruction of Heretical Shia strongholds in southern and eastern Iraq – explaining why Iran already has boots on the ground in Iraq. This can easily be compared with potential Russian boots on the ground in eastern Ukraine, when or if the Kiev army slaughters Russian speakers in eastern Ukraine.

US pretence that “the surge” defeated AQI is at the least unsubstantiated, firstly due to the actual methods used to beat AQI which especially included co-opting “former al-Qaeda rebels” in Iraq. These fighters reverted to Islamic fundamentalist-flavored banditry the moment the US taxpayer-funded paychecks stopped arriving. El-Maliki's government then added its own dose of US-approved (or tolerated) venom by provoking and inciting the emerging ISIS to become what it is today – sectarian, vicious, extremist and mindless.

The US has to place the blame where it belongs, at home and abroad. Saudi Arabia has meddled with the flames of fundamentalist banditry, both in Syria and in Iraq, but is now frightened of getting its own dirty fingers burnt – or cut off. Turkey to a certain extent can be blamed for doing the same thing, in its own way. In no way can Iran be called innocent, either.

Bandit Territory
ISIS already gives itself the airs and graces of a “fully-fledged military organization”, with an annual report (but not its accounts!), its methods and ambitions, its list of Most Successful car bombing and truck bombing exploits, and its annual claimed number of executions for “apostasy”. In other words it now believes it has moved on from a terrorist organization, to a military force with proven in-theater experience, now on show in Iraq.

To be sure, ISIS is very proud of its Western converts and recruits from the unemployment-wracked  ghettos of European cities. Their number is of course ultra controversial, but may be several thousand – possibly filling one-fifth or one-tenth of one football stadium. Their potential for further recruiting and inciting of fellow youth, back home, will be low but of course not zero.

It's possible – likely we mean -- that ISIS will inflame regional animosity and violence in a part of the world that has more than its share of both. It's also highly possible that ISIS is so destabilizing to so many actors they will unite, temporarily, to fight it off. Possibly, but not probably el-Maliki may try to be a little more cooperative with Sunni groups and factions in Iraq.

Obama and various European leaders have claimed that "Iraq needs help" but putting Humpty Dumpty back together again could be a losing proposition. The speed of the ISIS break out and takeover of various cities – outside Shia Iraq and Kurdistan - shows the problems faced for this supposed option. Under any hypothesis, fighting will become endemic in ex-Iraq. Anybody claiming to know what succeeds and replaces it is dreaming.

By Andrew McKillop

Contact: xtran9@gmail.com

Former chief policy analyst, Division A Policy, DG XVII Energy, European Commission. Andrew McKillop Biographic Highlights

Co-author 'The Doomsday Machine', Palgrave Macmillan USA, 2012

Andrew McKillop has more than 30 years experience in the energy, economic and finance domains. Trained at London UK’s University College, he has had specially long experience of energy policy, project administration and the development and financing of alternate energy. This included his role of in-house Expert on Policy and Programming at the DG XVII-Energy of the European Commission, Director of Information of the OAPEC technology transfer subsidiary, AREC and researcher for UN agencies including the ILO.

© 2014 Copyright Andrew McKillop - All Rights Reserved Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisor.

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