Friday 20 June 2014

ISIS bribed its way to victory (Pakistan Observer)

M D Nalapat
Friday, June 20, 2014 - Given the immense reach of Wahabbi lobbies funded by individuals in Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and elsewhere on US policy, it is no surprise that the Obama administration has yet to notice that there are numerous Sunnis in Nuri al-Maliki’s coalition government in Baghdad. This is in contrast to countries in the region allied to the US, which have - with the partial exception of Kuwait - kept Shia elements out of the higher levels of government. Indeed, in the case of both Saudi Arabia as well as Bahrain, a policy of seeking to marginalise the Shia has been carried out for generations, without any protest from Washington.

Simultaneously, beginning in early 2011, then Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton joined hands with France and the UK in first unleashing US-funded NGOs on the established governments in countries such as Egypt. At the same time, both through backchannels as well as publicly, the established government in Cairo was warned by the NGO-heavy Clinton team to desist from using force against those publicly asking for the capture and hanging of Hosni Mubarak. As took place in Russia in 1917 or in Iran during the 1979 fleeing of the Shah of Iran from his country, the chaos which resulted in the abrupt dissolution of state authority got filled by those who were well organised, even if their support base was minuscule. Although named “Blosheviks” ( “The Majority”), the reality was that Vladimir Lenin and his party had only a very narrow support base across the country, although this grew to an extent in 1917 when it called for an end to the war, in contrast to Alexander Kerensky and his moderates, who sought to continue to wage a hopeless battle against the German armies. It was the discipline and ideological fervour of the Bolsheviks that enabled its takeover of power that year, and its consolidation in the decade which followed. In like manner, Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeini had much fewer followers than the moderates who rallied behind him during 1979 in the belief that he would step aside once the Shah of Iran became history

They were taken unawares when Khomeini used the war launched on Iran by Saddam Hussein soon after the toppling of the Pahlavi autocracy to stamp out dissent against his rule. In the case of Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood took over the levers of power,all except the military and very soon revealed its intention of fundamentally altering the secular character of Egypt, a country where Christians and Muslims lived together in peace for centuries, until the Muslim Brotherhood began its quest to monopolise power in 2012. Unlike in the case of Iran, the overwhelming majority of the people of Egypt as well as the military rallied against the attempted takeover of the state as well as the nation by what has remained in essence a Wahabbi group.

Interestingly, despite their professed commitment to secular values, both the US as well as their primary EU partners have supported Wahabbi elements across the globe. Since 2011,they have in effect joined hands with the Wahabbis in the latter’s efforts at marginalising the Shia across the region, the way which has been the reality in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain for long. Hence there is no surprise at the stand of General David Petraeus, who took the credit for the cooling off of militancy in Iraq caused not by a surge in US troops but by the withdrawal of US forces from the intrusive patrolling they used to routinely indulge in during past days. The lower visible profile of US troops led to a reduction in the anger of the people of Iraq at being occupied by a foreign force, thereby lowering the statistics of deaths caused by anti-US insurgents, a reduction which has been inaccurately credited to Petraeus.

As in 1996, when the (Clinton-backed) Taliban militia took over Kabul by the simple expedient of bribing rival commanders, the ISIS victory on the battlefield has been caused by bribing senior Iraqi military commanders, who ordered the forces under them to desist from resisting the extremists. Several of them paid for this folly with their lives afterwards, being killed in the most brutal way by ISIS. It would not be difficult to identify the money trail linking donors in Kuwait, Qatar, Turkey and Saudi Arabia to the ISIS

battalions in the field in Iraq, nor would it be difficult to establish the provenance of the weapons and other supplies being used by the extremist militia to gain control of territory in Iraq. However, it is unlikely that CNN,BBC or Al Jazeera would do any reports of the sources of funds and weapons for ISIS, for the trail would lead to locations inconvenient for those who act as patrons for these news channels. Unless at least a few dozen of the individual donors to ISIS get identified and arrested in their countries of origin, which include the UK, Canada and France besides Qatar, Turkey, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, the flow of money to that organisation will continue. Those monitoring developments in the region say that more than $4 billion has been funnelled to extremist groups in the region since 2011,much of it through regular banking channels. This explains the ease with which ISIS has thus far been able to bribe senior Iraqi commanders into running away from the battlefield, thereby leaving the people under their protection to the depredation of the extremists. The continuing inaction by the US, guided as policy is in that country by those such as David Petraeus who favour Wahabbism, is going to result in Baghdad having to turn to Tehran and Moscow for support. Rather than be destroyed, the established authority in Iraq will turn to a “Coalition of the Willing” that would move against the extremists before they make greater advances. The delay by President Obama in responding to the request of Baghdad for immediate bombing raids on ISIS positions will result in the entry into the conflict of Tehran and Moscow.

Since 2011, NATO has followed policies in West Asia that have unlocked the doors to open war between Wahabbis and Shia, with NATO backing the former. Should Moscow come on the side of the latter, geopolitical consequences of such a move would be immense. Hopefully, President Obama will bring his team to their senses, and ensure that immediate assistance is given to Baghdad to repel ISIS. Otherwse, fire now burning in Syria, in Libya and in Iraq will soon spread, not only to Saudi Arabia and Turkey but to France as well.

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