The deepening crisis in Iraq is a result of mistakes of US Middle East policy under two presidents. Washington does not learn from mistakes, so tensions inevitably will rise in the already disintegrating region.
The regime change war of the George W. Bush administration against Iraq was arguably the greatest strategic mistake in US history. The consequences continue to unfold.
The Obama administration added fuel to the regional fire by launching the regime change wars against Libya and Syria. The flow of weapons and terrorists links these struggles.
The US public was outraged that the Obama administration considered a direct attack against Syria. The public today is becoming increasingly concerned about US involvement in yet another unnecessary Iraq war.
The present situation in Iraq must be placed in historic context. The British created the country after WWI from three former Ottoman provinces. The British strategic concept involved moving oil from the northern area of Mosul to Haifa in Palestine to be refined and then service the navy in the Mediterranean. Oil from the southern area of Basra was refined to service the navy in the Persian Gulf.
The northern area is one home of the Kurds, who are an ancient non-Arab ethnic group. The central area is traditionally the home of Sunni Arabs while the southern area is traditionally the home of Shiite Arabs.
The possibility of a breakup of this artificial state has always been present as the Kurds seek independence and the Shiite Arabs have religious ties to Iran. An Iraqi national identity was mostly held by secular political forces in the past.
In the aftermath of the war, the US dismantled the ruling Ba’ath political party, which ran the government apparatus. It also destroyed the Iraqi army. These two moves undermined national unity and stability in the post-war period.
The Obama regime change war against Syria has now morphed into a complex mess involving both Syria and Iraq. This explosive situation in turn threatens Jordan and Lebanon.
ISIS in Iraq
The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group with its many foreign fighters is a powerful actor in the present situation. But it must also be said that various Iraqi groups are also involved. These include former Iraqi military, political, and religious networks dissatisfied with the present Shiite-dominated government.
When the US toppled Saddam Hussein, it was inevitable that the next regime would be dominated by the Shiites who are the majority in Iraq. Experts at that time warned against the war, arguing that with Saddam’s fall, Iran would become influential in Iraq through Shiite politicians.
The Shiite-dominated Maliki government has been heavy handed toward Sunni Arabs and Kurds. This counterproductive behavior set the stage for the present crisis which has been exploited by outside forces such as Saudi Arabia and Gulf states. They financially and militarily support the extremist Sunni terrorist organizations attacking the Shiites.
Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states also support the US regime change war in Syria. Support by these states for Sunni terrorists is part of a larger plan to bring the region under Saudi dominance.
It is no secret in Washington that pro-Israel neoconservatives for decades have been plotting the balkanization of Syria and Iraq. They see this process as good for Israel because it would break up its hostile neighbors into less threatening enclaves.
The results of Washington’s incompetence may well provoke Iran into action to protect the Shiites of Iraq. Washington and Tehran may or may not be able to agree on a path forward.
The disintegrating situation in Iraq puts great pressure on Jordan.
Because Jordan is a key ally in the region one would expect Washington to bolster Amman and this could involve military forces.
US politicians have forced war and chaos on the Middle East and have learned nothing. Will Washington’s Asian pivot lead to similar results?
– By Clifford A. Kiracofe Source:Global Times Published: 2014-6-26
The author is an educator and former senior professional staff member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. firstname.lastname@example.org
Obama didn’t get the United States into the mess that is the “war on terror”; on the contrary, he courageously proposed to get Americans out of it.