FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

How Obama Lost Iraq

by

The fall of Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul, to an al-Qaeda linked militia elicited a curiously muted response from the Obama administration. Yes, Obama “denounced” the terrorist invasion, but when the Iraqi government asked for U.S. airstrikes to repel perhaps the most powerful terrorist group in the world, Obama thus far refused, only hinting at some form of aid in the yet-to-be-determined future.

This is perhaps the first time Obama has initially refused such an offer from an allied government. Indeed, he’s suspected to have approved airstrikes in 8 other countries under the guise of fighting terrorism. So why the hesitation?

One might also ask why the Obama administration didn’t act earlier to prevent this invasion, since the Iraqi government has been asking for U.S. aid for over a year to combat the terrorist group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which has been building its strength on the borderlands between Iraq and Syria.

One likely reason that Obama refused aid to his Iraqi ally is that he has other, much closer allies, who are funding the terrorist group invading Iraq. For example, since the war in Syria started, it’s been an open secret that QatarKuwait, andSaudi Arabia have been giving at least hundreds of millions of dollars to the Islamic extremist groups attacking the Syrian government.

This fact is occasionally mentioned in the mainstream media, but the full implications are never fleshed out, and now that the Syrian war is gushing over its borders the media would rather pretend that ISIS sprang from a desert oasis, rather than the pocket books of the U.S. allied Gulf States.

The Obama administration has consistently looked the other way during this buildup of Islamic extremism, since its foreign policy priority —toppling the secular Syrian government — perfectly aligned with the goals of the terrorists. Thus the terror groups were allowed to grow exponentially, as their ranks were filled with Gulf State cash, foreign fighters from Saudi Arabia and illegal guns trafficked with the help of the CIA.

The Obama administration hid the reality of this dynamic from view, calling the Syrian rebels “moderates” — yet what moderates existed were always a tiny, ineffectual minority. The big dogs in this fight are the Sunni Islamic jihadi groups who view Shia Muslims as heretics worthy of death and other religious and ethnic minorities as second-class citizens polluting their Islamic caliphate.

Middle East journalist Patrick Cockburn recently noted:   “ISIS now controls or can operate with impunity in a great stretch of territory in western Iraq and eastern Syria, making it militarily the most successful jihadi movement ever.”

Now that ISIS has invaded Iraq, a U.S. ally, you’d think a different approach would be used. But Obama’s hesitation to support the Iraqi government against ISIS may be a reflection of the U.S. having yet more shared goals with the terrorist organization.

For example, the U.S. has never trusted the Iraqi government. Ever since the Iraqi elections brought a Shia-dominated government to power, the Bush and Obama administrations have looked at Iraq as an untrustworthy pawn of Iran. And there is some truth to this: the Shia dominated Iraqi government has many close religious and political ties with Iran.

Further upsetting Obama is that Iraq hasn’t prevented Shia fighters from traveling to Syria to fight on the side of Assad.  Many in Shia-majority Iraq were stunned by the Sunni extremist massacres against the Syrian Shia population, which consequently drew Iraqi and Hezbollah Shia fighters into the Syrian war.  Thus, Iraq was on the “wrong side” of the U.S. sponsored proxy war in Syria.  In fact, Iraq went so far as to refuse Obama’s ”request” that Iraq deny Iran use of Iraqi airspace to fly military weapons to Assad.  Iraq’s consistent refusal to bend to key U.S. demands has strained relations with the U.S., which demands obedience from its “allies”.

Most importantly, a strong independent Iraq is seen as a threat to U.S. “regional interests,” since Iraq is a potential ally to Iran, Syria and Hezbollah, the regional powers that the U.S. does not have influence over and consequently desires either their “regime change” or annihilation.

Thus, when the Iraqi president came to the U.S. to plead for aid in October to fight ISIS, he was largely given the runaround, as U.S. politicians shifted the focus away from ISIS toward the Iraqi president’s “authoritarian” government.  Of course, this criticism was pure hypocrisy; the U.S. never questions its Gulf State allies about their “authoritarianism,” even as these countries continue to be ruled by the most brutal dictatorships on earth.

Some analysts have speculated that Obama will allow the Sunni terror groups to carve out a section of Iraq to help partition the country into smaller nations based on ethnic-religious regions, each represented by a Shia, Sunni, or Kurdish government. This would be the easiest way to ensure that Iraq remains weak and is not a threat to “U.S. interests.”  Mike Whitney describes the Iraqi partition idea:

“The plan was first proposed by Leslie Gelb, the former president of the Council on Foreign Relations, and then-senator Joe Biden. According to The New York Times the ‘so-called soft-partition plan ….calls for dividing Iraq into three semi-autonomous regions…There would be a loose Kurdistan, a loose Shiastan and a loose Sunnistan, all under a big, if weak, Iraq umbrella.’”

The events in Iraq and Syria further prove that the Bush-Obama “war on terror” is not only a complete failure, but a fraud. Bush and Obama have not waged a war against terrorists, but wars against independent nation-states.

The secular nations of Iraq, Libya, and Syria were virtually free of terrorism before U.S. military intervention, and now they’re infested. The war on terror has done nothing but destabilize the Middle East, create more terrorists, and drain the U.S. economy of billions of dollars it could have otherwise used towards jobs and social programs.

Shamus Cooke is a social service worker, trade unionist, and writer for Workers Action (www.workerscompass.org). He can be reached at shamuscooke@gmail.com

 

Shamus Cooke is a social service worker, trade unionist, and writer for Workers Action (www.workerscompass.org). He can be reached at shamuscooke@gmail.com

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
March 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Trump is Obama’s Legacy: Will this Break up the Democratic Party?
Eric Draitser
Donald Trump and the Triumph of White Identity Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Nothing Was Delivered
Andrew Levine
Ryan’s Choice
Joshua Frank
Global Coal in Freefall, Tar Sands Development Drying Up (Bad News for Keystone XL)
Anthony DiMaggio
Ditching the “Deep State”: The Rise of a New Conspiracy Theory in American Politics
Rob Urie
Boris and Natasha Visit Fantasy Island
John Wight
London and the Dreary Ritual of Terrorist Attacks
Paul Buhle
The CIA and the Intellectuals…Again
David Rosen
Why Did Trump Target Transgender Youth?
Vijay Prashad
Inventing Enemies
Ben Debney
Outrage From the Imperial Playbook
M. Shadee Malaklou
An Open Letter to Duke University’s Class of 2007, About Your Open Letter to Stephen Miller
Michael J. Sainato
Bernie Sanders’ Economic Advisor Shreds Trumponomics
Lawrence Davidson
Moral Failure at the UN
Pete Dolack
World Bank Declares Itself Above the Law
Nicola Perugini - Neve Gordon
Israel’s Human Rights Spies
Patrick Cockburn
From Paris to London: Another City, Another Attack
Ralph Nader
Reason and Justice Address Realities
Ramzy Baroud
‘Decolonizing the Mind’: Using Hollywood Celebrities to Validate Islam
Colin Todhunter
Monsanto in India: The Sacred and the Profane
Louisa Willcox
Grizzlies Under the Endangered Species Act: How Have They Fared?
Norman Pollack
Militarization of American Fascism: Trump the Usurper
Pepe Escobar
North Korea: The Real Serious Options on the Table
Brian Cloughley
“These Things Are Done”: Eavesdropping on Trump
Sheldon Richman
You Can’t Blame Trump’s Military Budget on NATO
Carol Wolman
Trump vs the People: a Psychiatrist’s Analysis
Stanley L. Cohen
The White House . . . Denial and Cover-ups
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Marines to Kill Desert Tortoises
Farhang Jahanpour
America’s Woes, Europe’s Responsibilities
Joseph Natoli
March Madness Outside the Basketball Court
Bill Willers
Volunteerism; Charisma; the Ivy League Stranglehold: a Very Brief Trilogy
Bruce Mastron
Slaughtered Arabs Don’t Count
Pauline Murphy
Unburied Truth: Exposing the Church’s Iron Chains on Ireland
Ayesha Khan
The Headscarf is Not an Islamic Compulsion
Ron Jacobs
Music is Love, Music is Politics
Christopher Brauchli
Prisoners as Captive Customers
Robert Koehler
The Mosque That Disappeared
Franklin Lamb
Update from Madaya
Dan Bacher
Federal Scientists Find Delta Tunnels Plan Will Devastate Salmon
Barbara Nimri Aziz
The Gig Economy: Which Side Are You On?
Louis Proyect
What Caused the Holodomor?
Max Mastellone
Seeking Left Unity Through a Definition of Progressivism
Charles R. Larson
Review: David Bellos’s “Novel of the Century: the Extraordinary Adventure of Les Misérables”
David Yearsley
Ear of Darkness: the Soundtracks of Steve Bannon’s Films
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail