One need remember that Iran and Iraq went at each other for a period just short of eight years starting on September 22, 1980 and lasting until August 20, 1988 and was initiated by Saddam Hussein and was largely considered to have been a failure by Iraq as Iran stopped the initial surge dead in its tracks and slowly but inexorably backed the Iraqi troops back and they eventually returned to their initial borders. This was just a part of the history of animosities between Iraq and Iran and was seemingly inevitable that they would go after one another. The fact that it was Saddam Hussein who began the hostilities was not so surprising and he may have even been nudged in that direction by the United States who still harbored great animosity towards the Iranians for the hostage crisis which was yet to have concluded. The United States hostages were not released until after the November Presidential elections on the very hour that President Reagan was sworn in to office. One might be able to claim that the hostage release coinciding with the swearing in of Ronald Reagan might make their release his very first accomplishment as President as few would even think to claim they were released as a sign of respect and a parting gift for President Jimmy Carter. The fact that the war between the secular dictatorial forces of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and the Shiite Muslim Sharia Iranian State of the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini fought to a virtual standstill exchanging the same patches of ground as the fates ebbed and flowed neither capable of delivering a decisive blow that might make the other reel and collapse before a superior force. This was, in many ways, a conflict where despite governments picking sides, some places such as Israel was simply glad that the war kept both nations occupied and facing some fire situation which left them so preoccupied that they had little time to think about harming Israel, something else where these two nations might have also competed to see which could injure Israel the most.
Two years, less a mere eighteen days, Iraq decided to invade another neighbor, this time Kuwait. Starting on August 2, 1990 it took a mere two days to August 4, 1990 for Saddam Hussein’s army to sweep across Kuwait. This not only caused Iran to worry that another attack might be in the cards from their nemesis, it also made Saudi Arabia extremely nervous about the possibility that Saddam Hussein might have them in his sights as his next victim. Saudi Arabia’s King Fahd bin Abdul Aziz called his good and close friend, President George Herbert Walker Bush and the wheels were put in motion to ride to the rescue. The United States formed a coalition which included a number of Arab and Muslim States which worked under United Nations approval and removed Saddam Hussein’s troops from Kuwait destroying a huge number of the Iraqi armored vehicles including numerous Russian supplied tanks and armored personnel carriers plus scores of trucks and other vehicles. The Iraqi troops caused an unmitigated ecological disaster by setting virtually, if not every, oil well in the Kuwaiti vast oil fields. It took months to extinguish and recap every well and then proceed to put them back into service. Things actually appeared to have settled down in the threats between nations, but that did not mean all was well in the Middle East. Acting on what was interpreted to be United States urgings the Iraqi Shiites in the south and the Kurds in the North made an attempt to dethrone Saddam Hussein expecting the United States to provide some level of assistance. Well, United States assistance was never considered being sent as they had refused to even chase the Iraqi troops back to Baghdad after chasing them from Kuwait. The closest the United States manpower came to Iran was protecting the Americans working in the Kuwaiti oil fields putting out well fires and recapping wells before returning them to service, a task that took several years.
After the 9/11 terror attacks on the twin Trade Center Towers, the Pentagon and another target foiled by the passengers of Flight 93 which they brought down at the cost of their own lives before it could reach its intended target which was believed to have been either the Capital building or the White House and the beginning of the war on terror with the invasions of Afghanistan to find Osama bin Laden and fight al-Qaeda and the Taliban, President George W. Bush requested further authorization to take military action against Saddam Hussein in order to prevent his further manufacture of chemical weapons and to terminate his reputed nuclear weapons program. The alleged nuclear weapons program had been backed by all evidence gathered by the British, the United States, France and the rest of Europe all indicated that Saddam Hussein an advanced nuclear weapons program which could have been completed except for the Israeli attack destroying the French built Osirak Reactor before it could be fueled and used to produce plutonium for a weapon. There is the common misconception that there was none of the precursors for a nuclear weapons program to be found in Iraq during the Second Gulf War. There was a large amount of Yellowcake, a form of raw uranium used for safe transport and storage and can be transformed into uranium hexafluoride which is what is fed into the centrifuges in order to enrich the uranium. Whereas these approximately five-hundred-fifty-tons of yellowcake, that is over one-million-pounds, were from the stores logged back in 1991 and was under the watchful eyes of the IAEA, that does not mean it was impossible for those stores to be utilized to jumpstart Saddam’s dream to attain nuclear weapons had he decided to demand that the IAEA inspectors leave Iraq and then gone full speed ahead in a mad dash towards making a weapon. North Korea has stores of yellowcake which under IAEA guards until it was not under IAEA guards. Granted it might have been difficult to get the yellowcake into production before the world arrived, as they arrived despite Saddam not touching those provisions as there were suspicions backed by faulty intelligence.
Now Saddam Hussein is long gone and Iran has all but annexed the southern third of Iraq, the Shiite controlled area that includes the capital city of Baghdad. The Kurdish has become an entity unto themselves and definitely has autonomy if not complete independence. The Iraqi government, which appears to be weak and feckless with Iran holding the real power but only in the southern third of the nation even partially cemented under their control, has thus far refused to provide any weapons or other provisions to reach either the Kurdish militias or the Sunni tribesmen thus leaving both to their own devices in fighting against such forces such as ISIS which has been marauding and murdering anybody who does not meet their high standards for Islamic purity. This fighting has mostly taken place in the Sunni central area of what has been Iraq and that has left the Sunni stuck between two murderous powers. The Shiite military from the south performs ethnic cleansing whenever they gain sufficient areas to conduct sweeps. It appears that the main people targeted are Sunni males of fighting age. When ISIS takes control of these same areas they too pick the same group and demand that they prove their devotion to Islam by joining the new Caliphate or else suffer the wrath of the true believers. They also threaten the families of these young and middle aged men most of whom just want to be left alone to tend to making a living and caring for their families. ISIS does not care if they are fathers raising a family with young children as they are true warriors for the faith and because their cause is pure, they themselves are pure as are their acts, thus their cause is righteous. This makes their courts just, their drafting of all able-bodied men of fighting age, willingly or not, righteous, their taking of supplies such as food, even if it deprives the people of proper means, is just and all they do and how they go about performing their actions are righteous. Their being holy warriors make anybody opposing their cause or placing themselves contrary to their demands acts of blasphemy. This is why they have been holding public executions and quick trials followed by swift execution of their judgement and the sentence. ISIS has been proving to be a force on the ground with which to contend. Should they ever manage to procure an air force of any size and with even the barest minimum of competence, then ISIS will have the potential to have become at the least an entity possessing the barest minimum for being a nation in the Middle East, at least as a replacement in some ways for Syria.
What will add significantly to the range and broaden the abilities of ISIS would be their gaining the backing of al-Qaeda, something they appear to have been doing piecemeal thus far as one former entity which had sworn their fealty to al-Qaeda are now switching and swearing fealty to ISIS such as Boko Haram. The recent threats made by ISIS may end up spelling their demise as they may be biting off more than they can chew. Their threats to replace the Arab Palestinian Authority actually make complete sense as they are two opposing sides of the forces against Israel. Where ISIS are Islamists who follow a strict interpretation of the Quran which defines their form of the Sharia, the Arab Palestinian Authority are secularist, socialist with a small semblance of democratic principles as long as such does not threaten those in the highest places. The Arab Palestinian Authority represent the most vile and far removed form of Islamic governance that one can find, they are oil and water, or more likely pure sodium and water. Hamas, on the other hand, has a very similar charter stand for the same world conquest and placing all of the world’s people under the banner of Sunni Islam by whatever means necessary. As Hamas and Islamic Jihad might have a better than average probability of joining ISIS as a whole entity and thus giving ISIS additional manpower which has already been tested in combat. The statement made by ISIS which could prove their taking on a nut they are unable to crack was their threat to also tackle Israel. The IDF would not need to hold back fighting ISIS as they habitually have been forced into doing with every possible entity watching their every move just waiting to pounce should Israel operate without the strictest of restraints almost requesting permission to return fire when her troops come under fire. The probability that ISIS will open up a new front within its current operating theater would be tactical suicide. Currently ISIS has three fronts, their borders with the Kurdish Peshmerga Militias who are well trained and disciplined holding the northern front in Iraq and the northeastern front in Syria, the Alawites are holed up with their backs against the Mediterranean Sea in the northwest rim of Syria, IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) and the remnants of the Iraqi Army in the south of Iraq and the entirety of their eastern front is the rest of the Iranian armed forces should they push in an eastern and there have been hints dropped this week that President Erdogan has made intonations that Turkey is considering moving down into Syria to scoop up as much of the lands as they are able and that would place another front for ISIS to face off against and of course ISIS has mentioned their desire to take control over the holy cities of Mecca and Medina which would involve a war with Saudi Arabia which would also bring the Egyptians into the fray. ISIS has one service they are providing the world at this stage, they are breaking apart the Iranian crescent by destroying Bashir al-Assad and breaking the direct link from Tehran through Baghdad on through Damascus and through to Beirut or Latakia, Baniyas, Sidon, Tartus, or Tyre and then out into the waters of the Mediterranean Sea. ISIS is a horrific and barbaric entity on the order of something like a Saddam Hussein who gassed thousands of his own countrymen. Saddam Hussein rivaled Hafez al-Assad, the man who had murdered more Syrian people than any enemy until his son, Bashir al-Assad, became what appears to be the last president who may have set the bar to such a height for percentage of one’s nation either murdered, rendered without shelter, made into refugees, fled the nation or been imprisoned or simply disappeared without a trace. For the sake of the Western World it would be to their advantage for ISIS to engage fully with Iran preventing them the peaceful times which would allow them to pursue their nuclear weapons program to its completion including the ICBM missiles which could easily reach anywhere on earth. Maybe it is the fate of ISIS to foil the plans and progresses of the Iranians as United States President evidently will not go so. So, once again we find that silver lining within one of our darkest of clouds. Still, how long will we live with a world where we have to rely on scoundrels to do the work of an elected charlatan?
Beyond the Cusp