There's a lot going on, and my time is limited. The topic, of course, is Iraq...
Is ISIS in Baghdad?
The video embedded above claims that the Sunni jihadis have arrived in Iraq's capital. The video comes from a YouTube page in Arabic. Google translate gives the headline as: "Allegations about the entry (Daash) to the Iraqi capital Baghdad."
says that a battle for Baghdad is going on as we speak. Some interesting nuggets: Iran has warned the U.S. to stay out, which is good advice. (We'd only make ISIS more popular.) Women are being asked to fight against ISIS alongside men.
The Saudi factor seems to be key
Many rich Saudis are secretly thrilled by the advance of ISIS, whose atrocities are an extreme manifestation of their own Wahhabi ideology. And they will gloat mightily if ISIS fulfils its ambition of reducing every Shia shrine in Iraq to blood-spattered rubble. As we speak, funds are being transferred from their bank accounts to the organisers of the insurgency, who despise Saudi princelings for their "Western" lifestyles but are more than happy to pocket the cash.
So after the grotesquerie of the Taliban and Osama bin Laden and 15 of the 19 suicide killers of 9/11, meet Saudi Arabia’s latest monstrous contribution to world history: the Islamist Sunni caliphate of Iraq and the Levant, conquerors of Mosul and Tikrit – and Raqqa in Syria – and possibly Baghdad, and the ultimate humiliators of Bush and Obama.
From Aleppo in northern Syria almost to the Iraqi-Iranian border, the jihadists of Isis and sundry other groupuscules paid by the Saudi Wahhabis – and by Kuwaiti oligarchs – now rule thousands of square miles.
Here's an interesting point...
The story of Iraq and the story of Syria are the same – politically, militarily and journalistically: two leaders, one Shia, the other Alawite, fighting for the existence of their regimes against the power of a growing Sunni Muslim international army.
Are we being prepped for a terror attack? This
While the Americans support the wretched Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his elected Shia government in Iraq, the same Americans still demand the overthrow of Bashar al-Assad of Syria and his regime, even though both leaders are now brothers-in-arms against the victors of Mosul and Tikrit.
sets off my bullshit detector...
"Thousands" of Westerners and Americans have joined Isis, according to a top US intelligence chief, and could target the US and other Western countries directly when they return home.
Is ISIS truly leading the charge?
“This is as dangerous as it gets. We need to do something to stop their momentum," US House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers told Fox News on Sunday.
He warned that Western-born militants could use their passports to return home and engage in terrorism.
Muzhir al Qaisi, formerly one of Saddam Hussein's generals, says that his organization, the General Military Council of the Iraqi Revolutionaries, is spearheading the rebellion, and that ISIS is simply one component of the movement. He also refers to his ISIS allies as "barbarians." (This come from the above-linked Telegraph story.) A group of Middle East scholars sounds this same theme here
Obviously, there are only two ways of interpreting this. Either al Qaisi is opportunistically trying to claim credit for ISIS' success, or ISIS is being given more credit than is due. Either way, I think Fisk's formulation -- a "Sunni Muslim international army" -- best describes what we're seeing.
Who made ISIS?
That's the key question. Michel Chossudovsky thinks that what we're seeing is a western experiment...
The conflict is casually described as “sectarian warfare” between Radical Sunni and Shia without addressing “who is behind the various factions”. What is at stake is a carefully staged US military-intelligence agenda.
Known and documented, Al Qaeda affiliated entities have been used by US-NATO in numerous conflicts as “intelligence assets” since the heyday of the Soviet-Afghan war. In Syria, the Al Nusrah and ISIS rebels are the foot-soldiers of the Western military alliance, which oversees and controls the recruitment and training of paramilitary forces.
The Al Qaeda affiliated Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) re-emerged in April 2013 with a different name and acronym, commonly referred to as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The formation of a terrorist entity encompassing both Iraq and Syria was part of a US intelligence agenda. It responded to geopolitical objectives. It also coincided with the advances of Syrian government forces against the US sponsored insurgency in Syria and the failures of both the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and its various “opposition” terror brigades.
The decision was taken by Washington to channel its support (covertly) in favor of a terrorist entity which operates in both Syria and Iraq and which has logistical bases in both countries.
As readers know, I've been thinking along these same lines. However, this next bit probably goes too far...
The objective is to engineer a civil war in Iraq, in which both sides are controlled indirectly by US-NATO.
To me, it is better to see this debacle as an example of "proxy warriors" who got out of control.
It is clear that the U.S., Israel and the Saudis wanted Assad gone, and they were willing to funnel arms and cash to anyone willing to fight in Syria. "Anyone" included the people formerly known as Al Qaeda in Iraq -- the people our soldiers were fighting throughout the Bush years. The failure of direct American intervention proved the desirability of using a proxy army.
But the puppet -- like Pinocchio -- began to walk around without strings. Yes, I think it's that simple.
We supported what Fisk calls "a growing Sunni Muslim international army" when it fought against someone we don't like: Assad. But then they went after we didn't really like but felt obligated to support: Maliki.
Nouri al-Maliki is -- I almost wrote was
-- a Shi'ite authoritarian and in many ways a natural ally of Iran. But like it or not, his government is the sum total of what we achieved when we invaded Iraq.
You might even say that something similar occurred when we armed the jihadis who fought a proxy war against the Soviets in Afghanistan. The puppets not only broke free of their strings, they turned on the puppet-masters.
Back to Chossudovsky...
US-NATO support to ISIS is channeled covertly through America’s staunchest allies: Qatar and Saudi Arabia. According to London’s Daily Express “They had money and arms supplied by Qatar and Saudi Arabia.”
“through allies such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the West [has] supported militant rebel groups which have since mutated into ISIS and other al‑Qaeda connected militias. ( Daily Telegraph, June 12, 2014)
ISIS is a caliphate project of creating a Sunni Islamist state. It is not a project of the Sunni population of Iraq which is broadly committed to secular forms of government. The caliphate project is part of a US intelligence agenda.
The new map of the Middle East.
Did that last bit venture too far once again? Toward the end of his piece, Chossudovsky republishes a remarkable map originally prepared by prepared by Lieutenant-Colonel Ralph Peters of the U.S. National War Academy. It was published in the June 2006 edition of the Armed Forces Journal.
Was this map simply a flight of Peters' fancy? If so, why did the Armed Forces Journal publish something so potentially inflammatory?
Obviously, this map represents Peters' attempt to improve upon the mess left by Mr. Sykes and Mr. Picot all those years ago (as Claude Rains elegantly explains in Lawrence of Arabia
). Wikipedia offers further insight into his thinking...
Regarding Iraq, he wrote, "might it not have been wiser – as several of us suggested in 2003 – to shake off Europe's vicious legacies and give Kurds their state, Iraqi Shias their state, and the country's Sunni Arabs a rump Iraq to do with as they wished?" Regarding all these countries, he wrote, "We needn't launch an endless war to fix the mess Europeans in pinstriped trousers left us – but we'd damned well better accept that, when we expend blood and treasure to prop up phony states, we're standing on the tracks in front of the speeding train of history."
In a column for Armchair General Magazine, he wrote in support of regime change in Syria, Iran and Pakistan: "Syria's determination to develop nuclear weapons apes Iran's and North Korea's nuke programs, as well as Pakistan's successful bid to join the club of nuclear powers ... Given a choice between taking out Osama Bin Laden and his entire leadership network and eliminating renegade nuclear engineers, the latter option might do far more for our long-term security."
It's tempting to wonder if Obama is taking advice from Peters. But I can't see the Saudis reacting to this plan with any glee. Look at what this new map does to Saudi Arabia!
It all goes back to Bush.
In 2007, Seymour Hersh warned about the "redirection"
-- the idea of funding and arming an international Sunni army (as Robert Fisk now calls it). As you read this, keep in mind: This was published in 2007
. It now seems like the most remarkable prophecy that anyone has scribbled down since that fella on Patmos Island said: "Last night I had the weirdest
The “redirection,” as some inside the White House have called the new strategy, has brought the United States closer to an open confrontation with Iran and, in parts of the region, propelled it into a widening sectarian conflict between Shiite and Sunni Muslims.
To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.
One contradictory aspect of the new strategy is that, in Iraq, most of the insurgent violence directed at the American military has come from Sunni forces, and not from Shiites. But, from the Administration’s perspective, the most profound—and unintended—strategic consequence of the Iraq war is the empowerment of Iran.
The new American policy, in its broad outlines, has been discussed publicly. In testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in January, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that there is “a new strategic alignment in the Middle East,” separating “reformers” and “extremists”; she pointed to the Sunni states as centers of moderation, and said that Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah were “on the other side of that divide.” (Syria’s Sunni majority is dominated by the Alawi sect.) Iran and Syria, she said, “have made their choice and their choice is to destabilize.”
Some of the core tactics of the redirection are not public, however. The clandestine operations have been kept secret, in some cases, by leaving the execution or the funding to the Saudis, or by finding other ways to work around the normal congressional appropriations process, current and former officials close to the Administration said.
The new strategy “is a major shift in American policy—it’s a sea change,” a U.S. government consultant with close ties to Israel said. The Sunni states “were petrified of a Shiite resurgence, and there was growing resentment with our gambling on the moderate Shiites in Iraq,” he said. “We cannot reverse the Shiite gain in Iraq, but we can contain it.”
I've had some quibbles with Hersh's stuff in the past, but this
Well, as we used to say back in California: Duuuuuuuuude....!
And on the lighter side:
Tony Blair has written a gut-bustingly hilarious take on the situation
. God help me, I think he means for this to be taken seriously...
It is inevitable that events in Mosul have led to a re-run of the arguments over the decision to remove Saddam Hussein in 2003. The key question obviously is what to do now.
This reminds me of Homer Simpson saying "Let's not play the blame game" when he is obviously at fault.
3/4 years ago Al Qaida in Iraq was a beaten force.
Yeah, and then we started arming, training and funding the fuckers and pointed them in the general direction of Damascus. We made sure that they got arms "lberated" from the Libyan stash after the fall of Gaddafy. We were training them in Qatar.
Why don't you tell us about that
The first is there was no WMD risk from Saddam and therefore the casus belli was wrong. What we now know from Syria is that Assad, without any detection from the West, was manufacturing chemical weapons. We only discovered this when he used them.
Stop, Tony! You're killing me! Just like you killed a lot of other people. Assad was not responsible for that chemical weapons attack and you know it.
Tony goes on and on like that. By all means, read what he has to say. He's funnier than John Oliver.