June 16, 2014
Is anyone surprised by the sectarian civil war in Iraq? Or that Sunni Islamist fundamentalists---Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), an al-Qaeda offspring----are settling old scores with Nouri al-Maliki's heavy handed Shiite Government by capturing the cities of Mosul, Ramadi, Fallujah and Mosul? This is the legacy of the American decision to invade and occupy Iraq in 2003.
A radical and brutal Islamist insurgency, which now controls large tracts of territory in northwest Iraq and northeast Syria, is a violent legacy of US policy in the Middle East. The Iraq-Syrian border no longer exists for most practical purposes.
These advances by Isis would not be happening unless there was tacit support and no armed resistance from the Sunni Arab community in northern and central Iraq because of their hatred of Iraq’s Shia-dominated government. Sunni Muslims have decided that the jihadists are preferable to persecution by the official Iraqi army.
It's regional conflict in the Middle Eastern sparked by the strong repression of Sunni Islamist paramilitaries by the Nouri al-Maliki's government in Baghdad. This Sunni-Shia conflict in post-Saddam Iraq does not affect Australia's national security or its national interest. It has little to do with the US/UK, Australia alliance's titanic battle against “Islamofascism” after 9/11, which they lost, even if they claimed victory.
The Americans, whose military intervention into Iraq under false pretences, are a primary cause of the recent sectarian conflict in Iraq, are in no position to dictate to other states how they should behave. Even if they still seem to see al-Qaeda, and its offshoots, as akin to a second coming of the Communist International, there is very little domestic support in the United States for new, large-scale American troop deployments in Iraq.
No doubt a weakened US will provide more drones and helicopter-gunships to the Nouri al-Maliki's government to help it fight the civil war and stay in power, and it will do so in order to prevent ISIS from creating a safe haven eventually stretching beyond parts of Iraq and neighbouring Syria. That help will probably not be enough as the civil war is turning into a general uprising of the Sunni community in Iraq, which is five or six million strong and mainly concentrated in the north and west. Will the West be happy to see these great Muslim powers fighting each other?
Iran is moving to stop the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis) from capturing Baghdad and the provinces immediately to the north of the capital. Will the US, Britain and their allies such as Saudi Arabia and the Sunni monarchies of the Gulf object to Iranian involvement in Iraq? Maybe what we are seeing is the end of the 1918 imperial Sykes-Picot division of the old Ottoman Middle East into Arab statelets---Syria, Iraq, Lebanon or Jordan, or even mandate Palestine, created by the British and French--- controlled by the West.