Beyond the Cusp

June 27, 2014

Will Telling Them to Play Nice Work in Iraq?

United States Secretary of State John Kerry was dispatched on an emergency call to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al–Maliki to depart the message direct from the White House instructing him to play nice with the Sunnis and promise them even representation and equal rights if he ever wants to have peace in Iraq and retain his position as Prime Minister. One must wonder how far into the discussion before al-Maliki decided to point out to Secretary Kerry that the problems might just have progressed beyond the possibility for a reconciliation and that ISIS, one of the most violent and well-armed terrorist armies, was just a day or two from the very place in Baghdad that the two were meeting. This ice-breaking comment was probably followed up with a serious discussion on what would be required for al-Maliki to be rescued from this impending disaster by an influx of American military power. Imagine when after al-Maliki completed painting a picture of the dire situation facing continued safety for the millions of Shiite Muslims who would necessarily be liquidated if they refused to comply with demands to convert to Sunni Islam and swear fealty to the leadership of ISIS upon hearing Secretary Kerry replying with demands that al-Maliki take steps to facilitate equality for the Sunni Iraqis and showing greater flexibility and openness to equality between Shiite and Sunni Iraqis. The actual message which was received was more akin to a challenge that you are all on your own here and we have left and shut the door. We, meaning the United States, had done everything to provide Iraq with everything necessary to fashion a democratic country with equality and political representation for all Iraqis and not to favor one sectarian group over the others.


The discussion between these two men could not have come from two people with more divergent assessments of the situation unfolding in Iraq, who was responsible for these difficulties, what is required from the United States and exactly how the crisis can be resolved taking the difference between the two sides as to what was necessary and what the United States is willing to provide. In the end, al-Maliki was now certain of exactly how little United States President Obama was willing to provide as far as military intervention and that if al-Maliki has any hopes of retaining his position, as well as very likely his life, his sole hope is to turn to the Iranians and sell his soul to the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Hosseini Khamenei if that is what is required for their greater assistance. Secretary Kerry made clear that the United States will not be providing air-support, especially close-air-support for troops engaged on the ground, and the United States was not going to send additional troops to come to the rescue for Iraq from being overrun by ISIS terrorist forces claiming that the training and support that the United States had already provided would need to suffice. The point was laid down as the law, the United States had left the country and nothing, even the imminent threats posed by ISIS, would drag United States forces back into the conflict, the war in Iraq was over as far as the powers in Washington were concerned. The idea of Washington to the rescue has been dashed completely leaving al-Maliki looking to Iran for salvation which may not result in a future in Iraq which would be favorable to the United States and with good reasons.


Perhaps a little history of the events in Iraq which have led to this predicament is in order. The initial war in Iraq had run into stringent opposition mostly from the Sunni militias, many of which probably mourned the defeat of Saddam Hussein and feared Shiite retribution and revenge for the years of mistreatment by the Sunni under Saddam Hussein’s rule. Some of the military leadership of the American troops in Iraq proposed a new approach to the situation in Iraq. This change in approach featured two main changes, a temporary but sizeable increase in numbers of troops in Iraq and a change in mission statement stressing protection of the Iraqi people regardless of their religious or tribal origins. This strategy became known as the surge and was implemented despite heavy resistance back in Washington. After the surge the levels of violence were greatly decreased and the al-Qaeda forces in Iraq had been largely defeated with the leadership killed, fleeing or captured. This was a highpoint in the United States application of force and policy. Part of the future plans from the United States included a George W. Bush negotiated agreement for continued American troops in Iraq through the decade and until 2011 and the holding of open, free and fully monitored elections. These elections resulted in a predominant presence of Shiites over Sunnis in the parliament and, as arranged, a Shiite Prime Minister which necessitated the runner-up which was a Sunni as the second in power. As the end of the term of service of the residual American troop presence approached, Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki made unacceptable demands which resulted in no further protections for continued presence of American forces which led directly to President Obama choosing to remove entirely any American troop presence. This removal of an American presence had dire consequences.


Within an extremely short period of time had passed after the final American troops were removed from Iraq, charges were filed against the leading Sunni in the government, the Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlak escaped Baghdad after rumors surfaced that an assassination attempt was imminent. He was subsequently brought up on charges which were eventually dropped as it became obvious that the charges held no merit and were political in their origins. Systematically the Sunni influences and representations within the Iraqi government were slowly excised with the Shiites taking complete control over all of the levers of power. This trend only grew over time which led to great feelings of powerlessness and lack of representation in the Sunni communities. This led initially to increases in terrorism which was spawned by sectarian animosities and tribal rivalries. This began to feed al-Qaeda which eventually made the attempt to conquer all of Iraq by the Sunni forces of ISIS, an offshoot of al-Qaeda who has distanced themselves from ISIS over the overt and inhuman violence implemented by ISIS to establish their preeminence over conquered lands and in order to remove any opposition supporters. It was ISIS which was responsible for much of the intra-rebel fighting in Syria which pitted ISIS against the secular and less stringent Sunni rebel forces in an attempt to completely take charge of any alternative to Syrian President Bashir al-Assad.


The forces of ISIS have been purifying the areas of Iraq over which they have taken control leaving numerous horrific scenes in the wake of their advance. One can only imagine the absolute and hysterical panic gripping those in the Iraqi government with the Shiites sheer horror being off-scale immeasurable with ISIS closing in on Baghdad. They have to be viewing ISIS of a horrific retribution calling them out and posed to impose a torturous slaughter upon every living creature anywhere near the halls of power. This is the panic which drives Nouri al–Maliki in his desperate pleas to Washington for the return of the United States military in force sufficient to protect him from the cleansing destruction of ISIS which assuredly has his name near the top of their lists for special treatment. The refusal by the United States to come riding over the horizon in the nick of time and saving the day will force al-Maliki to turn to the only other source of military power anywhere near sufficient to turn back the onslaught of ISIS, Iran. The question which should have been fully debated in Washington was whether it was the intent of the United States to force Iraq into the waiting embrace of Iran by refusing to provide an alternative source of power to help defend the Iraqi government other than the Iranian military. The United States did agree to provide a number of trainers, advisers and intelligence specialists possibly numbering around three-hundred personnel but has refused to provide ground forces or even air-support. That leaves the Iraqi government to visualize their sole salvation being invested with the Iranians no matter what the strings attached. This will finish driving Iraq into a complete and enduring alliance with Iran and the Mullahs and the Ayatollah Ali Hosseini Khamenei. This alliance will most certainly divide Iraq into three separate autonomous regions, the Kurdish regions in the north, the Iranian allied and controlled south and the center incorporated into a new nation which will include the heart and central areas of Iraq and the areas within Syria controlled by ISIS and possibly all of Syria if ISIS eventually defeats al-Assad and the other rebel forces fighting al-Assad. Beyond the divvying up of Iraq, there will be other far more dire ramifications of the United States moving inexorably out of the Middle East as they depart Afghanistan and having already departed Iraq. The stage is set for the struggle for preeminence and complete control of the Middle East regions and the oil fields found there. Will the caliphate become a Shiite or a Sunni dominated power and will the fighting result with an inevitable nuclear exchange between Iran and Saudi Arabia and who else will be drawn into the eventual conflagration and will it make any difference. These are questions whose answers lie in the future and of which discourse will be fraught with dire alternatives offered.


Beyond the Cusp



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