Matching Grant Challenge
BruceMatch
We’re slowly making headway in our annual fund drive, but not nearly fast enough to meet our make-or-break goal.  On the bright side, a generous CounterPuncher has stepped forward with a pledge to match every donation of $100 or more. Any of you out there thinking of donating $50 should know that if you donate a further $50, CounterPunch will receive an additional $100. And if you plan to send us $200 or $500 or more, he will give CounterPunch a matching $200 or $500 or more. Don’t miss the chance. Double your clout right now. Please donate.
 unnamed

Yes, these are dire political times. Many who optimistically hoped for real change have spent nearly five years under the cold downpour of political reality. Here at CounterPunch we’ve always aimed to tell it like it is, without illusions or despair. That’s why so many of you have found a refuge at CounterPunch and made us your homepage. You tell us that you love CounterPunch because the quality of the writing you find here in the original articles we offer every day and because we never flinch under fire. We appreciate the support and are prepared for the fierce battles to come.

Unlike other outfits, we don’t hit you up for money every month … or even every quarter. We ask only once a year. But when we ask, we mean it.

CounterPunch’s website is supported almost entirely by subscribers to the print edition of our magazine. We aren’t on the receiving end of six-figure grants from big foundations. George Soros doesn’t have us on retainer. We don’t sell tickets on cruise liners. We don’t clog our site with deceptive corporate ads.

The continued existence of CounterPunch depends solely on the support and dedication of our readers. We know there are a lot of you. We get thousands of emails from you every day. Our website receives millions of hits and nearly 100,000 readers each day. And we don’t charge you a dime.

Please, use our brand new secure shopping cart to make a tax-deductible donation to CounterPunch today or purchase a subscription our monthly magazine and a gift sub for someone or one of our explosive  books, including the ground-breaking Killing Trayvons. Show a little affection for subversion: consider an automated monthly donation. (We accept checks, credit cards, PayPal and cold-hard cash….)

pp1

or
cp-store

To contribute by phone you can call Becky or Deva toll free at: 1-800-840-3683

Thank you for your support,

Jeffrey, Joshua, Becky, Deva, and Nathaniel

CounterPunch
 PO Box 228, Petrolia, CA 95558

How Strategic an Alliance?

ISIS and the Gulf Cooperation Council

by RANNI AMIRI

“Trust me. The magic will turn against the magician.”

– Sayyid Hasan Nasrallah, in reference to unnamed Gulf countries’ role in the Iraq crisis

Directly and indirectly, covertly and overtly, by word and by deed, nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have long bolstered extremist groups operating in the Middle East and beyond. They include the Taliban, al-Qaeda, and the latter’s most recent incarnation, the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS).

The six-country economic and political bloc known as the GCC is spearheaded by Saudi Arabia and Qatar in support of takfiri organizations fighting in the Syrian civil war. Now the standout of the bunch, true to their name, has moved on to the Iraqi theater after seizing Mosul and nearby cities.

Predictably, both Saudi Arabia and Qatar issued nearly identical statements blaming Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for the carnage wrought by ISIS including its sectarian massacres, summary executions, destruction of churches and mosques, beheadings, car bombings, and suicide attacks.

Without doubt, Maliki has been inept in forming a cohesive, inclusive governing coalition during his tenure. Even if one believes this may be partially excused due to the still-fresh horrors of Saddam-era Ba’athist rule, lack of outreach and rampant, entrenched corruption have markedly hampered the nation’s post-occupation progress.

That said, neither can be blamed for ISIS’s well-armed, well-financed and coordinated attack on Mosul. Their limited fighters and successful takeover of Iraq’s second-largest city speak more to their support—not necessarily among ordinary Sunnis who at heart are repulsed by foreign invaders and their import of religious law—but from regional powers who share a similar vision: the overthrow of Maliki’s government specifically, and Shia-majority rule in Iraq generally. Not insignificant was the tactical assistance provided by opportunistic Saddamist parties like the New Ba’ath Party of former Vice President Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri and the affiliated Naqshabandi Army.

As corrupt and dysfunctional as Maliki’s rule has been, certain Gulf regimes remain unhappy at the reversal of fortunes Iraq has seen since Saddam Hussein’s ouster (despite his invasion of Kuwait, he was much preferred to any popularly-elected leader), especially its close relations with Iran

Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates are quite content to see militants from ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra and others operate far from their borders, although they are keenly aware the Frankensteins they created will turn on them in an instant if given the opportunity. Hence, these jihadist groups are kept at an arm’s length, busy settling scores and waging their financiers’ sectarian battles elsewhere in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq. But early developments already point to the unintended consequences the ISIS-GCC alliance will inevitably bring, to the chagrin of both King Abdullah and the Emir of Qatar. Indeed, as Hasan Nasrallah recently stated, the magic may yet turn against the magicians.

Although the hope is for the Maliki government to fall and amicable ties with Iran severed, recognition of the danger posed by groups like ISIS will only hasten a rapprochement between the United States and Iran as they share a common enemy. The notion of joint military action by U.S. and Iranian forces is fanciful, yet the media’s mere mention of the possibility certainly sent shockwaves through Doha and Riyadh (and Tel Aviv). In addition, the United Kingdom already announced its embassy in Tehran is set to reopen with limited staff.

Once the brutish, draconian behavior of ISIS becomes apparent—and it will—their support will prove illusory as Sunni Arab tribes ultimately turn against them. In return, Sunnis are likely to demand meaningful political concessions from Maliki and he would be wise to seize the opportunity for reconciliation. Such cooperation between Sunni and Shia Iraqis will be anathema to those planning for the country’s partition and collapse, and a fitting rebuke to both ISIS and the GCC.

Rannie Amiri is an independent commentator on Middle East affairs.