(If you came here from Information Clearinghouse, you may notice that this piece has been slightly re-written, mostly for reasons of style.)
The ISIS phenomenon is as bizarre as it is horrifying. These jihadists (led by a mystery man named Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, a.k.a. Abu Dua, a.k.a. "The Ghost" -- about whom, much more below) have achieved sudden, dramatic success. Yet nearly everyone in the Islamic world detests them.
Although ISIS is often described as an offshoot of Al Qaeda, ISIS managed to alienate even Ayman al-Zawahiri, the man who assumed Bin Laden's "throne." Even fighters for the rival Nusra front -- the Syrian rebels who eat hearts and desecrate churches -- temporarily broke with ISIS, on the grounds that ISIS is too extreme.
If you've been paying any attention to the news, you already know that ISIS took over Mosul
, the second largest city in Iraq, which thousands of people
have fled. They have also reportedly taken Tikrit, the birthplace of Saddam Hussein, although some accounts hold that government forces have retaken the city.
The situation is so dire that even Iran
has offered to help their one-time foes in Iraq. Of course, Shi'ite Iran does not want to see a powerful neighbor ruled by ultra-radical Sunnis.
From the Washington Post
Meanwhile in Mosul, one of Iraq’s most important cities, ISIS set about asserting its control, issuing an 11-point charter spelling out the creation of an Islamic state along with new laws, punishments and incentives. Alcohol, cigarettes and drugs are outlawed, citizens will henceforth be required to pray five times a day, thieves will have their hands amputated and women must stay indoors except in cases of emergency, the charter said.Never forget who is responsible for this disaster: The neoconservatives.
“To those of you who ask, who are you? The answer: We are the soldiers of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria . . . who took it upon ourselves to bring back the glory of the Islamic Caliphate and turn back injustice and indignity,” the charter announced.
They are the ones who remain addicted to delusions of empire. They are the ones who decided to reconfigure the Middle East. They are the true fathers of calamity.
tries very hard to point the finger elsewhere...
If jihadists control Iraq, blame Nouri al-Maliki, not the United States.
Fred Kaplan's Slate article is pretty damned infuriating. (Shorter Kaplan: "David Petraeus -- what a MAN!"
) Even so, the writer stumbles toward sanity at the end:
But this could be yet another sign of a breakdown in the entire Middle East. The war in Syria, which can be seen as a proxy war between the region’s Sunnis and Shiites, is now expanding into Iraq.
This is semi-accurate, although the details are wrong. ISIS is an incarnation of Al Qaeda in Iraq; thus, we may fairly state that ISIS expanded from Iraq into Syria
, not the other way round. And I don't see how we can call this conflict a "proxy" war. It's war
, plain and simple -- an old school sectarian bloodbath.
Sorry Fred, but you can't change a piece of history that we all know all too well. The neocons started it
. They were the kids who found the matches. And they ignited Hell.
Sure, Maliki has much to answer for -- he has become a Saddam-esque authoritarian with a record of oppressing the Sunnis -- but who put that guy in charge of Iraq in the first place? Who created
this situation, if not George W. Bush?
At this moment, an army of well-recompensed propagandists are banging out stories designed to convince the populace to place fault with anyone and everyone except Bush, Cheney and their minions. If you want to see a truly vomit-inducing example, go here
. But if you want reality
, go here
Islamic Jihadis Take Over Second-Biggest City In Iraq...But Al Qaeda Wasn’t Even IN Iraq Until the U.S. Invaded
Understand? Get it?
There was no Al Qaeda in Iraq before we invaded
. Americans stupidly believed that we invaded Iraq to punish the perpetrators of 9/11. In fact, Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with that atrocity, and nothing to do with Al Qaeda.
And now Al Qaeda -- or rather, an even more insane successor movement -- may soon conquer Iraq.
And U.S. policy in Libya is partly responsible for sending an influx of Al Qaeda terrorists – and heavy weapons – into Iraq.
And now things are getting a whole lot worse...
(The jihadis call themselves “The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria”. The fact that the U.S. is backing Al Qaeda in Syria is probably a continuing factor).
To make matters worse, the army fled, so the militants seized huge caches of U.S. supplied weapons, including humvees...
How did this happen? Was it engineered? Was this planned? Or did we blunder into this catastrophe?
As I see it, the "elephant in the living room" here is the not-quite-covert effort to create and fund a fighting force capable of toppling Syria's Bashar Assad. Both Israel and Saudi Arabia want Assad removed from power.
As noted above, and as we have seen in earlier posts, the United States insured that weaponry from Libya went to anti-Assad jihadists
. Before that, we supported jihadis fighting against Gaddafy of Libya:
'The White House and senior Congressional members,' the group wrote in an interim report released Tuesday, 'deliberately and knowingly pursued a policy that provided material support to terrorist organizations in order to topple a ruler [Muammar Gaddafi] who had been working closely with the West actively to suppress al-Qaeda.'
'Some look at it as treasonous moves,' said Wayne Simmons, a former CIA officer who participated in the commission's research. 'And our men and women had to follow what many purport as, qualify as treasonous moves.'
Retired Rear Admiral Chuck Kubic, one of the commission's sources, told reporters Tuesday that those weapons are now 'all in Syria.'
Obama's decision to go along with the neocon plan to topple Assad was almost as foolish as Dubya's decision to topple Saddam Hussein. The enemy of your enemy is not
necessarily your friend -- especially when the enemy of your enemy is a gang of bloodthirsty fundamentalist zealots.
Isn't it strange...? Obama's many foes on the right have never hesitated to hurl absurd accusations at this president. Yet most right-wingers have refused to criticize the president for arming jihadists linked to Al Qaeda
. How can they complain, when everyone knows that Mitt Romney would have done the same thing?
Such is the continuing power of neoconservatism in this country. It is the untouchable ideology.
, writing in the New Yorker, understands the problem:
Which brings us to the third reason. When the Americans invaded, in March, 2003, they destroyed the Iraqi state—its military, its bureaucracy, its police force, and most everything else that might hold a country together.
The trouble is, as the events of this week show, what the Americans left behind was an Iraqi state that was not able to stand on its own. What we built is now coming apart. This is the real legacy of America’s war in Iraq.
Why did the neocons do it? Some have speculated that the real purpose of regime change in Iraq, Egypt and Syria was to surround Israel with failed states run by sectarian warlords. Nations embroiled in perpetual civil strife aren't likely to challenge Israel.
there such a plan? I don't know. But current events seem to buttress that theory. The other theory, of course, holds that we're seeing a bold manifestation of Saudi Arabia's long-running conflict with Iran. (The Saudis are Sunni, while Iran is Shi'ite.)
Who is Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi?
Born Awwad Ibrahim Ali al-Badri al-Samarrai, he received a doctorate from the Islamic University in Baghdad. In 2003, he is said to have formed a short-lived militant group
in response to the American invasion.
Interestingly, in October of 2005, he was reported killed
by an American strike near the Syrian border. (How many Al Qaeda leaders have survived their reported deaths? Even Bin Laden died more than once.) Most news accounts hold that he was captured in 2005 -- presumably after his "death" in October.
But just when
was Abu Bakr captured? So far, our journalists have given us little but mist.
Note that the WP says that he got out of prison in 2009, while the Daily Mail
gives the year as 2007. That discrepancy is potentially important. If he got out after Obama took office, the Fox Newsers will make predictable use of that fact.
The man's imprisonment began mysteriously, and ended even more mysteriously. I've been trying to find out why, when and how Abu Bakr slipped out. Did he escape? Was he freed? Was there a trial? Did rich friends on the outside supply a bounty? Available accounts of the man's life leave this key period veiled.
The paucity of data makes one suspicious.
"Well," some of you may be saying, "he's a man of mystery. He hides himself. He disguises his face and voice when he meets with people." Sorry, but that excuse won't do.
We're talking about the years he spent in U.S. custody
, the one period of the man's life which ought to be extremely well documented. Surely the military can humor us with a few dates? I'd also like to know why this man was allowed to walk when so many less threatening prisoners remain locked up at Gitmo.
In 2010, the freed Abu Bakr assumed control of Al Qaeda in Iraq with an unexplained rapidity. At the time, Al Qaeda in Iraq was at its lowest ebb -- yet Abu Bakr formed the sudden ambition to take over Syria. From the WP:
But then Syria happened. The civil war there, which left a vacuum of authority in large tracts of the country, fueled a resurgence of the group. The upheaval gave rise to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Over the following years, as many as 12,000 militant Islamists — 3,000 of whom were from Western countries — flocked to the region to fight, according to the Soufan Group, an intelligence consultancy...
Emphasis added. (Soufan
is an interesting fellow in his own right -- but his story must wait for another time.)
Abu Bakr, the man who survived being "killed" in 2005, was also reportedly captured for a second time in 2012
. If you hit that link, you'll encounter a strange story with one very startling passage:
"It's not known whether Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the man who is said to have taken over the al-Qaeda organisation here is actually Iraqi, or, in fact, even exists or is a composite of several people," said Arraf.
"Arraf" is a reporter for Al Jazeera, which later said that the individual captured in 2012 was actually another ISIS commander.
The ultimate responsibility:
As we contemplate Abu Bakr's role in the anti-Assad uprising, we must never forget that the United States, Saudi Arabia and Israel are largely responsible for creating the Syrian rebellion
Saudi Arabia is reportedly training foreign-backed militants in Syria as part of a new push to topple the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
The kingdom has teamed up with Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, and France in adopting the new policy to bolster the militants in Syria, the Foreign Policy magazine reported.
Other reports also said that the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) as well as Saudi Arabia and Jordan have supplied about 600 tons of weapons in 2013 alone to the militants in Syria.
Many of those weapons went to ISIS and the Nusra Front, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Will Congress have the guts to look into the hidden history of the effort to oust Assad of Syria? Any such inquiry will also uncover the hidden history of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.