UN(FOR)SEEN IRAQ June 27, 2014Posted by wmmbb in Australian Politics, Modern History.
So who is ISIS? Where do they get their money from? Why are they so well trained and effective? Are they part of a holy war that might loosely be interpreted as a jihad or struggle?
The Australian Government in its announcements is responding in alarm to the apparent success of the highly organized groups of fighters operating within and across the Syria-Iraq border. Chris Uhlmann and James Glenday reported for AM on 23 June 2014:
The potential threat of “home-grown” terrorists has prompted Prime Minister Tony Abbott to announce the Government will do whatever it can to protect Australian citizens from extremists returning to the country.
“The best thing we can do for Australians at home is to ensure that jihadis do not come back to this country,” he said.
“We will do everything we humanly can to stop jihadist terrorists coming into this country and if they do return to this country, we will do everything we reasonably can to ensure that they are not moving amongst the Australian community.
“We will ensure we stop the jihadists as well because the last thing we want is people who have been radicalised and militarised by experience with these Al Qaeda offshoots in the Middle East returning to create mischief here in Australia.”
Coalition sources have told AM that security agencies need greater capacity to track potential “home-grown” jihadists and their allies.
The interesting question might asking, Why do young men volunteer to go to war anyway? Here are some testimonies from Australians who volunteered for the First World War:
If not a just cause, it was noble to be a “jidahi” for the Empire. So what was the Empire up to?
Scott Anderson goes back to the First World War at Smithsonian.com:
When Serbian nationalists conspired to assassinate the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914, they lit the fuse that would, six weeks later, explode into World War I. The fallout from those murders, and the ghastly legacy of the entire war, extend far beyond the time frame of the late 1910s. Nor were they limited to Europe; the war’s effects are as fresh as the grisly stories and images coming out of Iraq today.
For nearly 400 years prior to World War I, the lands of Iraq existed as three distinct semi-autonomous provinces, or vilayets, within the Ottoman Empire. In each of these vilayets, one of the three religious or ethnic groups that predominated in the region – Shiite, Sunni and Kurd – held sway, with the veneer of Ottoman rule resting atop a complex network of local clan and tribal alliances. This delicate system was undone by the West, and for an all-too-predictable reason: oil.
In order to raise an Arab revolt against the Ottomans, who had joined with Germany and Austria-Hungary in World War I, Great Britain forged a wartime alliance with Emir Hussein of the Hejaz region of Arabia, now the western edge of Saudi Arabia bordered by the Red Sea. The 1915 pact was a mutually advantageous one. Since Hussein was an extremely prominent Islamic religious figure, the guardian of the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, the alliance inoculated the British against the Ottoman accusation that they were coming into the Middle East as Christian Crusaders. In return, Britain’s promises to Hussein were extravagant: independence for virtually the entire Arab world.
What Hussein didn’t know was that, just months after reaching this accord, the British government secretly made a separate – and very much conflicting – pact with their chief ally in World War I, France. Under the terms of the Sykes-Picot Agreement, the future independent Arab nation was to be relegated to the wastelands of the Arabian peninsula, while all the most politically and commercially valuable portions of the Arab world – greater Syria, Mesopotamia – would be carved into British and French imperial spheres.
This double-cross was finally laid bare at the postwar Paris Peace Conference in 1919, and solidified at the San Remo Conference in April 1920. Under the terms of these imperial agreements, France was to be given much of greater Syria – essentially the modern-day borders of that country, along with Lebanon – while the British would possession of the vast swath of the Arab world just below, an expanse stretching from Palestine in the west all the way to Iraq.
But if history has shown that it’s always risky to divide a historical homeland, as the British and French had done in greater Syria, even more perilous is to create an artificial nation – and this is precisely what the British had done in Iraq.
In the promises made to Emir Hussein back in 1915 regarding future Arab independence, one of the very few “modifications” the British asked for was in the two southern vilayets of Iraq, where oil had been discovered; here, London suggested, “special administrative arrangements” would have to be made.
By war’s end, however, oil had also been discovered in the vilayet of Mosul, just to the north, and Britain cast its covetous gaze there, as well. Since the promise of Arab independence was already a dead letter, the solution was quite simple: the “nation” of Iraq was created by fusing the three Ottoman provinces into one and put under direct British control.
Naturally, Britain didn’t present this as the land-grab that it truly was. To the contrary, there was much high-minded talk of the altruistic nature of their mission, of how, after a sufficiently civilizing period of Western tutelage, the locals might be allowed to govern themselves. When the ungrateful locals balked at this notion, the British simply dismissed the officials and bureaucrats of the former regime, ignored the tribal leaders, and placed their new vassal state under the direct administration of British civil servants and soldiers. . .
From then on the plot and deception thickened. Israel was created by the fiat of the Imperial Powers, although Israelis might claim possibly with that the terrorist organization, the Stern Gang, was instrumental. The American invaders made much the same mistakes as the British imperialists in Iraq leaving behind a shattered and bitterly fractured society. The crimes have gone unindicted and unconvicted, suggesting that the rule of law is a fiction who proclaim themselves as the representatives of Western Civilization.
However plain the facts might be, they cannot be expressed at least to a mass audience. Noam Chomsky observed:
“To everyone except a dedicated ideologue, it was pretty obvious that we invaded Iraq not because of our love of democracy but because it’s maybe the second- or third-largest source of oil in the world, and is right in the middle of the major energy-producing region. You’re not supposed to say this. It’s considered a conspiracy theory.”
Mike Whitney at CounterPunch:
I think we have to understand first how we got here. We have been arming ISIS (the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) in Syria. ISIS, an al Qaeda offshoot, has been collaborating with the Syrian rebels whom the Obama administration has been arming in their efforts to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.” – Senator Rand Paul, Interview CNN
Today’s head-scratcher: How could a two-mile long column of jihadi-filled white Toyota Land rovers barrel across the Syrian border into Iraq–sending plumes of dust up into the atmosphere –without US spy satellites detecting their whereabouts when those same satellites can read a damn license plate from outer space? And why has the media failed to inquire about this massive Intelligence failure?
So the grounds for “conspiracy theory” are fertile. The truth, whatever it may be will prove more interesting. Gilbert Mercier at CounterPunch provides further speculation:
Jihadist fighters are nothing new. They’ve been around under other names like Mujahideen or “freedom fighters,” in Afghanistan, for more than 30 years. Just like al-Qaeda, ISIS is the secret love child of United States imperialism and the kings and sheiks of the Gulf states. In other words, in the Middle East, engineering of failed states has been on the US foreign policy agenda for decades. This was already at play in the early 1980s, when the Reagan administration — effectively run by Vice President George Bush Sr — backed Saddam Hussein in Iraq’s war against Iran.
An all-out regional sectarian war between Sunnis and Shiites might not have been the goal, but it is certainly the result. Anyone with even a rudimentary knowledge of the region should have known that Iraq, Libya and Syria, without strongmen like Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi, and Bashar al-Assad at their helm, were likely to implode into chaos. Who might ultimately profit from fueling a fratricidal war within Islam? Could this be a strategy of ash and ruins, preliminary to the expansion of the Jewish state into the so-called Greater Israel?
Matthew Gray at Inside Story:
The spectacular emergence of ISIS – the acronym stands for “the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria” or, more precisely, “the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Shams,” “al-Shams” effectively meaning the Levant – appears remarkable at first glance. Seemingly out of nowhere, it has overrun several key towns and cities in the central-north and central-west of Iraq, including Iraq’s second-largest city, Mosul. As they advance, ISIS fighters have brutally abused their enemies and imposed their extreme interpretation of an Islamic state on local populations. They seem to combine the fervour of an ideologically driven terrorist group and the strength of a well-organised militia, and few people appear willing to resist them.
But these are early days in this newest battle for Iraq’s future. ISIS may prove to be much less potent than it appears; certainly, it speaks for very few Iraqis. It faces formidable challenges in holding territorial gains and transforming into anything close to a functional government. And it has a lot more enemies than friends among the foreign governments with a stake in Iraq’s future.
ISIS’s dramatic rise is not so much a reflection of its capabilities as it is of the weak opposition it has encountered thus far. Its forces are highly motivated, for sure, and its leadership has “sold” ISIS very skilfully on social media and deftly created local sources of revenue in Syria. Many of its fighters have extensive combat experience in Iraq or Syria. This sounds ominous, especially since around 800 ISIS fighters overran some 30,000 Iraqi army soldiers and took Mosul on 10 June. But in Mosul, the Iraqi soldiers probably fled out of surprise and because of an unwillingness to fight for an unpopular government and prime minister in Baghdad, not just out of ineptness or cowardice. Because many of the soldiers were Sunni, moreover, they are less threatened by ISIS than the Shiites, who are seen as apostates by ISIS’s Sunni extremists. And Mosul, while certainly a mixed Sunni–Shiite city, is disproportionately Sunni and has long been in violent disarray. In other words, it was an easy target for a group like ISIS.
On the same day, the Iraqi army also fled from Kirkuk in disarray, this time in the face of Kurdish peshmerga militia who took the chance to seize the disputed city. The lesson here is that the peshmerga is a strong, very disciplined and well-trained fighting force, far superior to most units of the Iraqi army.
None of these consideration apparently have crossed the Prime Minister’s mind when he appears on the television program, Sunrise. He is on personal terms with “Kochie” and accepts all his assumptions including linking terrorists and terrorism with refugees. No this is no dehumanization. Nor is it like the propaganda of the First World. Could it possibly be a responsible prime minister conferring with responsible, informed, democratic citizens?