Many have seen the news. Iraq is facing another brawl between the Sunni and Shiite. I do not proclaim any side, or even to know and comprehend the difference between the two beyond a limited and basic level. Is it required? There is an interesting article on it all in the Huffington Post (at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/howard-barbanel/the-current-incarnation-isis_b_5509461.html), whether this is something you can connect to is up to you. It is the last paragraph that gives me pause and even some worry.
“Unfortunately, what’s needed is for the West to man-up and send in a multi-national force (Americans, Brits, French, Germans, etc.) and squash ISIS (which has ambitions of spreading their Islamic revolution to London and New York). It won’t take many planes or drones. ISIS has no air force. It won’t even take many troops to confront the several thousand ISIS fighters. What it will take is will power and if there’s absence of that we will be left only with the words of the 18th Century Irish philosopher Edmund Burke: ‘All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.‘”
First of all, the US has no intent of getting involved (at present), more important should they? Remember the old issue when between the 2nd and the 4th of August 1990, Iraq took over Kuwait? It was condemned and after a while the US instigated Desert Storm and it was in that time between 17th January and 28th February 1991 that Sadam Hussein was removed from Kuwait. It was after this when at some point Bill O’Reilly made mention that at this stage, the hold of Sadam Hussein was weak and the Iraqi people could have overthrown their government if they truly wanted freedom. He was correct in a sense, but was he correct overall? I did not consider that part until this week. You see, the issues around Operation Iraqi Freedom (a dubious choice of name to some extent), was that this situation was never completely and correctly resolved (I admit that my use of correct is debatable). So as the US established democratic elections and formation of new Shia led government, we should wonder, even though the Shiite is in a massive majority, how the Sunni’s would react. Last week we saw the escalation of that sentiment in all its brutality. Giving a lot more weight to the consideration Bill O’Reilly left me with when he made the initial statement.
I needed to get another view, so I looked and I found this statistic Shia Muslims constitute 10-20% of the world’s Muslim population and 38% of the Middle East’s entire population, So that is a sizeable chunk, another gave me: “Most Muslims are of two denominations: Sunni (75 – 90%) or Shia (10 – 20%)“, which makes me wonder at first, yet the view from Professor Sue Hullett gave me: “Let me review, while Shia Islam makes up only 10%-20% of the world’s Muslim population, Iraq has a Shia majority (between 60%-65%), but had a Sunni controlled government under Saddam Hussein“, As she is the Distinguished Professor and Chair of Political Science at Knox College, her numbers should be regarded as reliable and they are in line with other numbers I found.
This leaves me with a much clearer picture that we are facing a change where Iraq goes back into the shape it had under Sadam Hussein. More important, the Shiite majority seems to be unwilling to fight the Sunni’s in this matter. Linked to this is a second quote from the Huffington Post “Tens of thousands of Iraqi troops just ran away, abandoned their equipment and abdicated their duty. Had even a fraction of them stood and fought, ISIS probably could have been thwarted.”
This is exactly in the light Bill O’Reilly stated several years ago. So is this a case of ‘Barbarians’ attacking ‘Pacifists’? More important, is it the job of the USA to just intervene every time? The issue of ‘deserting’ Shiite’s, for whatever reason, gives clear indication that not only was the exit strategy poorly chosen, an exit strategy should not have been considered. In other light, if the Iraqi’s are not willing to fight for their country and resources, what rights are they enabling themselves with?
Is there a solution?
I am not sure if there is. I have my doubts whether 300 advisors will help when troops run away leaving plenty of resources behind for ISIS, the fact that ISIS was active in Syria and is now armed to the teeth and entering Iraq should also give way to additional questions. The strategic position of ISIS at the borders of Iraq, Syria AND Jordan should also be seen as a dangerous escalation. The destabilisation of Jordan (if made threats are accurate), will push millions of refugees in all kinds of direction; none of them could be seen as a positive one. This is at the heart of the strategy of ISIS, which with my apology for a lack of better phrasing is actually brilliant. They have area control to move large amounts of goods and the US is not clear on what to do and where to do it. If they openly start an opposition war, whether from Iraq or not, they will derail whatever achievements the US state department had made with Iran, this will open up more options for Syrian escalation and the one almost ‘stable’ part there (Jordan), will now be in direct threat as well as its Royal family. Unless King Abdullah II of Jordan finds an acceptable alliance and added support, it runs the risk of destabilising really fast. Now we have ourselves a true Clambake as ISIS ends up with resources at the bulk of the Israeli borders. There is then a direct threat to Eilat (via Jordan) as well as the option to enter the Sinai with from there a path to Hamas. Israel could find themselves in a direct war on two fronts whilst having only limited options to reflect the invader ISIS without direct consent of Jordan, which ties the hands of Israel, with likely direct threats to the cities of Eilat, Ashkelon and Beer Sheva, which puts Israel in clear and present danger of having to instigate a massive offensive. This changes the Sinai into a powder keg and whilst there is no outspoken hostility against ISIS by Egypt, even if it was, Egypt will not allow an increased presence of Israel in the Sinai, making this “no man’s land” a good haven for ISIS, would they proceed in this direction.
ISIS is there for a massive danger for overall stability. That part is called to order even stronger when we consider the headline of the Financial Times ‘Diverse funding and strong accounting give Isis unparalleled wealth‘, by Sam Jones, Defence and Security Editor yesterday afternoon. This gives way to several issues. Not only are they a threat, they are a well-funded threat, which means that they could support Hamas with materials allowing for even more attacks on Israel, giving us an easy escalating situation. I reckon my initial advice for Israel to take back the Sinai in 2012 would have been the best course of action. Not in any anti-Egyptian way, but considering the pressures President Sisi is dealing with at present, having to deal with ISIS in his back yard might have been the one part he preferred not to deal with.
It would also have limited several explorations by ISIS, yet that did not happen, which means that unless a direct solution for Iraq can be found, we will see escalations all over the Middle East. If ISIS does get a hold of Iraq, the US will be forced into a financial and military corner, requiring a solution in a multinational way and very likely in several nations. Will that ever be an acceptable option?
In my mind, the most direct meed would not be Iraq, but Jordan. It is dealing with millions of refugee’s and a dwindling amount of resources. You should by now realise that until Iraqi’s pick up arms (instead of fleeing), that theatre could be lost. If we accept the roman principle of war (the installation of defences against enemy retaliation), then adding strength to the Kingdom of Jordan, as well as a massive increase of Humanitarian aid will be a first priority. It makes Israel less of a target and it limits the movement of ISIS in regards to Syria and Iraq. Yet in the end, until an offensive is launched, ISIS cannot be dealt with and that is something that needs to be done, the question remains: ‘how to do it?’