Ramifications of disintegration of Iraq and Syria

By  Asif Haroon Rajasyerian president

Commotion in the Middle East from 2003 onwards didn’t occur accidently but it up surged systematically in line with the US-Israeli-Western plan of splitting powerful Arab and North African States into small quasi-States, changing the boundaries of Middle East and then paving the way for establishment of Greater Israel stretching from River Nile to Euphrates and in total control of oil, gas and other mineral resources of the region. Similar plans had been hatched for Afghanistan and Pakistan as was evident from issuance of independent Balochistan and Greater Pakhtunistan. Seizure of Central Asia’s resources was also part of the master plan. The word ‘terrorism’ was coined to destroy radical Muslim States defined as axis of evil. The tools employed for the materialization of grand plan of neo-colonizing the Muslim world were, pre-emptive massive military strikes to destroy terrorists and their abettors; stoking ethnic and sectarian tensions.

Invasion and occupation of Iraq by US led forces in 2003 led to Shia-Sunni conflict and growth of Al-Qaeda in Iraq. Invasion of Lebanon by Israel in 2006 gave birth to Iran backed Hezbollah and shaped up Iran-Syria-Hezbollah alliance. Shia regime in Iraq led by Nuri al-Maliki also tilted towards this nexus. Sudden appearance of Arab Spring at the start of 2011 gave rise to speculations that it was the doing of CIA-Mosad combine with ulterior objectives. Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Libya, Syria, Morocco, Algeria, Jordon, Saudi Arabia and Gulf States were affected. Within no time, Zain al-Abedin regime in Tunisia and Hosni Mubarak regime in Egypt crashed, while Qaddafi regime in Libya was forcibly toppled by NATO. Simultaneously, US-Saudi backed insurgency by Syrian Sunni rebels against Bashar al-Assad regime erupted in Syria. By that time, sectarian war in Iraq had heightened after the exit of occupying troops in December 2011. Yemen also underwent a regime change but it is still engulfed in turmoil. Uprisings in various States enabled Al-Qaeda to spread its tentacles in Arabian Peninsula and beyond and also rejuvenated Muslim Brotherhood (MB) that had been crushed by successive military rulers in Egypt.

In Egypt, Morsi and his MB regime democratically elected in June 2012 was booted out by US-Saudi backed Gen Fattah al Sisi in July 2013 and since then the country is in a state of flux due to protests/insurgency launched by MB activists. The MB has been banned and its members are being ruthlessly persecuted. In Libya, large numbers of Islamic militant groups have cropped up and have posed a serious challenge to the government setup by NATO. In 2012, the US Consulate in Benghazi was attack by militants killing the ambassador. Renegade former army General Khalifa Haftar, declaring the central government to be too weak, assembled a force of his loyalists and launched an offensive on June 1, 2014 to clear Benghazi of the presence of Islamic militants belonging to Ansar al-Sharia group, declared as a terrorist group by USA. A fighter jet was used to bomb the locations of the militants. The group has accused the US of backing Haftar. The latter survived a suicide bombing attack on June 4 but his three of his bodyguards died. The leaderless country is rived in turmoil.

In Syria, CIA’s monkey tricks have also backfired. The US plan to militarily intervene in August 2013 in support of Syrian rebels fell flat in the face of Vladimir Putin’s superior diplomatic manoeuvre. It’s backtracking in Syria and hobnobbing with Iran made Washington-Riyadh relations frosty. Crisis in Syria deepened as a result of infighting among al-Qaeda, Al-Nusra Front and Islamic State of Iraq & Levant (ISIL). Entry of thousands of foreign fighters from Europe, Caucasus and other parts of the globe became a cause of worry for European leaders. Syrian civil war has also changed outlook of the two allies, Hamas and Hezbollah, with former backing Syrian Sunni rebels and the latter supporting Alawite regime.

In Iraq where sectarian war is taking a heavy toll, entry of ISIL has added a new chapter in the ongoing conflict between Nuri al-Maliki’s Shia heavy security forces and Sunni militant forces wanting their political and economic grievances to be addressed. The ISIL under Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi consisting of 10,000 to 12,000 militants after capturing Dier Ezzor, Ar-Raqa and parts of Aleppo in Syria, entered Iraq like a hurricane on June 9, 2014 and within no time overwhelmed Nineveh and Anbar provinces as well as sizeable parts of three other provinces in northwestern and western Iraq including second biggest city of Mosul and the biggest oil refinery at the outskirts of Baghdad.

In the process the ISIL has taken control over very large quantity of war munitions including choppers, guns, vehicles and aircraft. It has also substantially enriched its treasure chest. On June 29, Abu Bakr was named ‘Caliph Ibrahim’ and the name ISIL changed to Islamic Caliphate (IS).  The IS has published a map of its future Islamic Caliphate which includes Iraq, Syria, Jordon, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. The Iraqi National Army (INA) trained at a very heavy expense proved too fragile to stem the gushing lava and it ran away in utter confusion. It is now trying to recapture Tikrit where battle is raging.

The US response to the IS threat is lukewarm. Unlike in the past when its rapid deployment force would rush to any trouble spot of its interest in any part of the globe, it is helplessly watching the unraveling of Nuri’s regime which it had installed in 2006. So far it has rushed in about 500 soldiers belonging to Special Forces to guard its Embassy in Baghdad to avert Tehran-like hostage episode. In addition, it has dispatched 300 military advisers to guide the down in the mouth INA. Obama is so far non-committal over Nuri’s request for air and drone strikes.

US tepid response has given rise to conjectures that there is more than what is seen with a naked eye. Analysts in the west are floating ideas that ISIL is CIA created and sponsored. They say that Western Special Forces are operating within rebel ranks of Al-Nusrah and ISIL and the two outfits are the foot-soldiers of the Western military alliance, which oversees and controls the recruitment and training of paramilitary forces.

The US after consistently accusing Iran as a vigorous abettor of terrorism and supportive of Al-Qaeda is now trying to convince Tehran to come to the aid of Iraq. The turnabout came in the aftermath of interim nuclear deal in Vienna in November 2011. On one hand Iran is being pressed to roll back its nuclear program as desired by Israel, and on the other it is being presented as a partner of US led coalition to fight al-Qaeda and its off-shoots like ISIL. The purpose is to depose Nuri who has fallen from US grace, and find a better replacement acceptable to other Iraqi communities. Saudi Arabia, UAE, Iraq’s Ayatollah Sistani too want Nuri to bow out.

Turmoil in Libya, Egypt and Yemen, and now destabilization of Iraq and Syria as nation States and ensnaring Iran into a vicious regional sectarian conflict correspond with Odid Yinon plan conceived by him in 1984 and later pursued by the US neo-cons and Tony Blair to neo-colonize Middle East and lay the foundation of Greater Israel as conceived by Zionist Theodore Heizi. Ever widening sectarian war in Syria and Iraq will sooner than later engulf several other regional countries like Lebanon, Jordon, Saudi Arabia, Gulf States, Iran, Turkey and possibly Pakistan. Possible disintegration of Syria and Iraq on ethnic lines will have devastating ramifications for the entire Middle East.

The writer is a retired Brig, defence analyst/columnist/historian, member Executive Council PESS, Director MEASAC Research Centre and Director Board of Governors TFP. asifharoonraja@gmail.com

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