FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Who Will Save Iraq?

by

“We gave Iraq a chance”

– President Obama

Recent events in Iraq are a tiny foreshadowing of the horrors to come. A glance at smoldering Syria reveals Iraq’s fate if current events continue. And while such a crisis demands that something be done, the solutions offered will only expedite Iraq’s descent into a prolonged nightmare.

The rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) should strike terror in the hearts of all Iraqis. Unfortunately, there are anti-government groups in Iraq making the same foolish mistakes made by the Syrian opposition: both naively treat ISIS — and other al-Qaeda-type groups — as an ally towards bringing down the government. But ISIS remains the leader of this movement, and an ISIS-led government would be an unnecessary tragedy for all Iraqis.

The marriage between ISIS and the Iraqi opposition will be short, and the divorce brutal. Ultimately the broader Sunni-led opposition desperately needs a progressive vision for the country. Simply being anti-government is a shallow goal if the outcome is ISIS coming to power.

The other main force in Sunni-dominated politics are former Baathists, who simply want a return to an Iraq where they received special perks as they dominated the Shia population. Between the Baathists and ISIS the legitimate grievances of the broader Iraqi Sunni population have no representation in this fight.

Some argue that because ISIS is so horrific that U.S. military intervention is justified, since it would be an actual case of “humanitarian intervention.”

However, ISIS is a Frankensteinan monster raised by the Gulf state monarchies and aided and abetted by the Obama administration. The exceptional Middle East journalist Patrick Cockburn recently wrote:

“Since the U.S. supports the Syrian opposition and the Syrian opposition is dominated by ISIS and al-Qa’ida groups, the Iranians wonder if the U.S. might not be complicit in the ISIS blitzkrieg that destabilised [Iraqi Prime Minister] Maliki and his Shia-dominated pro-Iranian government.”

Yes, Obama’s bloody fingerprints are all over this unfolding crime, which is why the U.S. cannot be relied on to have any positive impact. The U.S. government is incapable of using foreign policy in a “helpful” way. Indeed, the U.S. government prioritizes “U.S. interests,” which have continually led to the train wreck that is currently the Middle East. Obama’s “humanitarian” assistance in Syria is what led to the disaster now infecting Iraq.

Any U.S. intervention will also empower ISIS, since the majority of Iraqis want U.S. soldiers out of their country, and more U.S. soldiers will simply push the broader Sunni population into the arms of the Islamic extremists.

The Shia religious community of Iraq cannot save Iraq for similar reasons. The greater that the Shia community comes together to face ISIS, the more sectarian ammunition ISIS will have to agitate the broader Sunni community, who would otherwise be repulsed by ISIS’ ideology. The lunatic sectarianism of ISIS cannot be countered by a sectarian response without further dragging the country into chaos.

For similar reasons the Iranians can be no real help to the situation. Iran is in many ways the leader of the world’s Shia community, and thus despised by the Sunni extremists leading the revolt in Iraq. Any Iranian intervention will only help ISIS attract more recruits. Iran also has its own geo-political interests, which often prioritize brokering a peace/nuclear deal with the U.S. while Iraq and Syria are used as bargaining chips.

An increasingly popular idea to “save Iraq” among U.S. politicians has the greatest potential to destroy it. The solution of partition seems to be gaining ground, where Iraq will be splintered either into independent nations or autonomous zones dominated by a Sunni, Shia, and a Kurdish region. The U.S. loves partition because it creates weak, easily exploitable countries, giving greater power to U.S. allies in the region.

History has shown time and again that re-drawing borders on ethnic-religious grounds creates large scale ethnic-religious cleansing, as the new nation seeks to give its majority population a stronger political mandate by getting rid of minorities.

Those minorities who remain become official second class citizens, since they are not believers in the official faith or lack the official blood of the nation state. The splintering of Yugoslavia and India are especially good examples of how partition kills, while Israel and Saudi Arabia are good models that show the psychopathic discrimination embedded in a nation founded on religion.

Many politicians argue that Iraq’s partition is already complete, and refer to it as “de-facto partition.”  They argue: why not make the reality official by drawing new boarders and creating new states? But such a move would just be the beginning of even greater conflicts, which will exacerbate ethnic-religious cleansing, intensify the war in Syria and give greater license for similar types of proxy wars toward an even greater disintegration of the Middle East.

All of the above solutions to Iraq’s problems are no solutions at all, and must be met with a truly progressive counter-force. The religious extremists who are working collaboratively with corporate politicians to tear apart the Middle East can’t be defeated by competing religious and business interests.

To fight the ideology of religious-ethnic division that is destroying the Middle East, a countervailing force is required which unites, that has the potential to unify the vast majority of people against the minority of economic-religious elites who pursue this destructive divide and rule strategy.

Sunnis, Shias and Kurds have more in common than differences, but their differences are being preyed upon and exacerbated by religious-corporate elites who profit by maintaining their despicable leadership over these communities.

Unity is possible when common interests are focused on, such as the dignity that all people desire that requires a decent, job, education, housing, health care, etc. A political vision that prioritizes these needs can create a new progressive movement, much like the pan-Arab socialist revolutionary movements that transformed the Middle East in the 1950’s and 60’s.  But this means that the U.S. government, with its imperialist interests, must not be allowed to intervene.

The Middle East elites used ethnic and religious divisions and foreign intervention to defeat the pan-Arab movement, but the outcome for the Middle East has been nonstop catastrophe. The Middle East cannot be saved outside of a new ideology of political and economic unity, similar to the principles that drove the revolutionary pan-Arab socialist movement in the past.

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

May 04, 2016
Kshama Sawant
It’s Not About Bernie: Why We Can’t Let Our Revolution Die in Philadelphia
Conn Hallinan
Baiting the Bear: Russia and NATO
Joshua Frank
Hanford’s Leaky Nuke Tanks and Sick Workers, A Never-Ending Saga
Paul Craig Roberts
TIPP: Advancing American Imperialism
Ted Rall
Hillary to Bernie Supporters: Don’t Vote for Me!
Eric Draitser
Hillary Clinton and Wall Street’s Neoliberal War on Latin America
Leslie Scott
The Story of Jill Stein: Putting People, Peace and the Planet Before Profits
Ann Garrison
Building the Greens Into a Mass Party: Interview with Bruce Dixon
Tom Clifford
Crying Rape: Trump’s Slurs Against China
Lawrence Davidson
Getting Rid of Bad Examples: Andrew Jackson & Woodrow Wilson
Ellen Brown
Bank of North Dakota Soars Despite Oil Bust: A Blueprint for California?
Nelson Valdes
Is Fidel Castro Outside or Part of Mainstream Thinking? A Selection of Quotes
Jesse Jackson
Don’t Send Flint Down the Drain: Fix It!
Nathan Riley
Help Bernie Keep His Halo
Rivera Sun
Remembering Nonviolent History: Freedom Rides
Clancy Sigal
Rachel and the Isolationists: How Maddow Blew It
Laura Finley
Changing the Conversation About “The Woman Card”
CJ Hopkins
Coming this Summer … Revenge of the Bride of Sophie’s Choice
May 03, 2016
Gary Leupp
Hillary Clinton’s Foreign Policy Resumé: What the Record Shows
Michèle Brand – Arun Gupta
What is the “Nuit Debout”?
Chuck Churchill
The Failures of Capitalism, Donald Trump and Right Wing Terror
Dave Marsh
Bernie and the Greens
John Wight
Zionism Should be on Trial, Not Ken Livingstone
Rev. John Dear
A Dweller in Peace: the Life and Times of Daniel Berrigan
Patrick Cockburn
Saudi Arabia’s Great Leap Forward: What Would Mao Think?
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Electoral Votes Matter: Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders vs Donald Trump
Chris Gilbert
Venezuela Today: This Must Be Progress
Pepe Escobar
The Calm Before the Coming Global Storm
Ruth Fowler
Intersecting with the Identity Police (Or Why I Stopped Writing Op-Eds)
Victor Lasa
The Battle Rages on in Spain: the Country Prepares for Repeat Elections in June
Jack Rasmus
Is the US Economy Heading for Recession?
Dean Baker
Time for an Accountable Federal Reserve
Ted Rall
Working for US Gov Means Never Saying Sorry
Dave Welsh
Hunger Strikers at Mission Police Station: “Stop the execution of our people”
John Eskow
The Death of Prince and the Death of Lonnie Mack
May 02, 2016
Michael Hudson – Gordon Long
Wall Street Has Taken Over the Economy and is Draining It
Paul Street
The Bernie Fade Begins
Ron Jacobs
On the Frontlines of Peace: the Life of Daniel Berrigan
Louis Yako
Dubai Transit
Bill Quigley
Teacher, Union Leader, Labor Lawyer: Profile of Chris Williams Social Justice Advocate
Patrick Cockburn
Into the Green Zone: Iraq’s Disintegrating Political System
Lawrence Ware
Trump is the Presidential Candidate the Republicans Deserve
Ron Forthofer
Just Say No to Corporate Rule
Ralph Nader
The Long-Distance Rebound of Bernie Sanders
Ken Butigan
Remembering Daniel Berrigan, with Gratitude
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail