Iraq - search results
53 National Religious Groups, Academics, and Ministers Urge Alternatives to U.S. Military Action in...
Two and a half years after the US military withdrew from the country, Barack Obama has pledged a renewed commitment to long-term military involvement in Iraq to counter the Islamic State’s self-declared caliphate, which has swallowed large swathes of northwestern Iraq and northern Syria.
Washington defended its renewed involvement in Iraq as being necessary to prevent the slaughter of the minority Yazidi and Christian religious communities, who fled their homes en masse as ISIS advanced. US forces did indeed provide thousands of gallons of clean water and packaged meals.
The administration’s altruism, though helpful in this case, appears highly selective, considering the subdued US response to the entrenched persecution of minorities in the region throughout the Western-backed war to topple the Syrian government over the past three and a half years.
The Obama administration’s strategic interests in the current scenario are undoubtedly grounded in bolstering the pro-American Kurdish peshmerga forces defending the semi-autonomous Kurdish region, where US energy firms such as ExxonMobil and Chevron have significant investment interests.
The United States has redeployed some 800 troops to Iraq since June, and has since conducted dozens of airstrikes in support of Kurdish peshmerga fighters and Iraqi Special Forces, who successfully retook a strategic dam near Mosul. The Iraqi army is now struggling to retake the town of Tikrit, some 130km north of Baghdad, where ISIS is firmly in control.
Reporting on Blackwater Operations in Iraq: Journalist James Risen Must Be Shielded from Department...
ISIS is marching through city after city in Iraq, and they are doing it with American weapons. Thanks to a series of stunning victories in recent months, ISIS has captured a vast array of U.S. military equipment including trucks, Humvees, rockets, artillery pieces and Stinger missiles. When the U.S. was pulling out of Iraq, we were [...]
GUEST: David Swanson, author, activist, and blogger. His books includes Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union and War is a Lie and When the World Outlawed War. Follow him on Twitter.
TOPIC: David reacts to the news that Bowe Bergdahl has been released— and that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan continue.
ORIGINAL BROADCAST DATE: Friday, June 6, 2014.
There is much evidence to suggest that Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki and his Shiite-dominated government have politically and economically marginalized the country’s Sunni minority, using punitive measures to violently crackdown on protests and engage in mass arrests. While its true that there exists a broad Sunni opposition to Maliki’s rule, this alone cannot explain the recent developments in Iraq.
The unraveling security situation in the region, as well as the overtly sectarian nature of post-Saddam Iraqi politics, cannot be divorced from legacy of the US occupation of Iraq and policies undertaken since by the Obama administration in Syria, in coordination with partners such as Saudi Arabia. Despite the trillions spent by Washington to fight terrorism, ISIS has emerged as the most efficient, discipline, and well-funded jihadist group in history.
ISIS, the organization now making rapid advances toward Baghdad, formed following the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. The group likens itself as an ideologically superior alternative to al-Qaeda, due in part to its efficiency and gains on the Syrian battlefield. The group’s central purpose is the creation of an Islamic state that encompasses both Syria and Iraq into a borderless caliphate.
ISIS is said to have around 7,000 to 10,000 fighters, many who previously fought with al-Qaeda, and others who are former Ba'athists and soldiers of the Saddam-era army that fought against the US occupation. The organization is known for targeting Shiites, Christians, and other religious minorities, garnering a brutal reputation for carrying out crucifixions, beheadings and amputations.
According to the Iraqi government, ISIS has looted banks and captured military supplies since taking the northern city of Mosul, and now controls around $2 billion in cash and assets. The jihadist group has also produced professional propaganda videos and a sleek public relations campaign designed to attract private investors and new recruits.
Iraq’s Sunni community has long felt alienated by the Shiite-dominate government in Baghdad, and its true that a wider Sunni revolt against Maliki is taking place, with ISIS serving as the strongest component. Voices from the US political establishment accuse the Obama administration of contributing to the crisis in Iraq by formally withdrawing occupation troops from the country in 2011, under an agreement made during the Bush administration.
These problems are not a product of a hasty withdrawal from Iraq, but rather the results of Washington’s flawed attempt at nation building by the notorious neoconservatives following the toppling of Saddam Hussein. The US occupation that began in 2003 entirely dismantled Iraq’s central government, state institutions, and armed forces. To offset the influence of Sunnis loyal to the Ba’athist establishment, the US empowered the Shiites.
The Bush administration’s nation building efforts fueled sectarian divisions by favoring certain groups and religious sects that were seen to be more advantageous and amenable to US interests, effectively restructuring Iraqi society based on the suggestions of intelligence analysts and think-tanks in Washington. Tribal groups and sects were armed by the US to fight forces that resisted the US occupation. It is essential to note that al-Qaeda didn’t exist in Iraq prior to the fall of Saddam Hussein.
A similar argument being made is that the Obama administration failed to do enough to aid the ‘moderate’ elements of the armed opposition in Syria since the war began in 2011, which empowered radical forces like ISIS. The proponents of this argument clearly overlook the millions spent by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) sanctioned by the Obama administration to bolster various rebel groups inside of Syria.
Wealthy donors from the Gulf countries have also fuelled the growth of jihadist groups, but the backing from US-aligned Sunni monarchies has been significant enough to warrant warnings against doing so from the Obama administration, which is now somewhat more cognizant of the blowback that such policies incur. The brutal rise of ISIS and the unraveling of Iraq and Syria are principally the result of outside attempts to shape the politics and resources of the region through force and covert operations.
Some disillusioned members of Iraq’s Sunni population, who are a majority in the northwestern regions of Baghdad, view the advance of ISIS as a positive development, but any further advances into the Shiite-dominated south and the semi-autonomous Kurdish regions in the north – where three-quarters of Iraq’s strategic oil fields lay – will be met with stiff resistance by Iraqi security forces and the Kurdish Peshmerga.
In Syria, the black flag of ISIS hangs over the northern provincial capital of Raqqa, from where it has secured several key oilfields in the eastern regions, providing further revenue. The jihadist organization, by attempting to capture the key oil refinery in Baiji, is attempting a similar strategy in Iraq. The fighting has caused oil prices to shoot up to a nine-month high, trading above $114 a barrel. If fighting bleeds further south, oil markets will experience even more radical price volatility, which some analysts suggest will see crude trading at above $120 a barrel.
The ironic miscalculation of US policy in the region is that Damascus and Baghdad look towards Iran for assistance, and in truth, Washington may need to collaborate with Tehran if it intends to contain the spread of ISIS and radical Sunni militias. Iran may provide Baghdad with the kind of training and assistance that allowed the Syrian army to consolidate and make gains against ISIS across large swathes of Syria.
This crisis now unfolding may the be catalyst that forces Maliki and the Shiites to work more closely with the Kurds and nationalist forces, as both the Iranians and Americans have been suggesting. Rather than more overt foreign intervention, all elements of Iraqi society must come together under the banner of a multi-sectarian force to face the menace now attempting to redefine borders and radically reshape the region.
Listen to Lila Garrett's Connect the Dots on KPFK: AUDIO.
David Swanson organizer of WORLD BEYOND WAR does an in depth analysis of our intervention in this civil war in Iraq including its connection to those interests in the US determined to feed and maintain our permanent war economy.
Former Congressman Bob Filner served as Chair of the Congressional Com. On Veteran Affairs from 2006-2010. As chairman, Filner increased spending on veterans healthcare, and a new GI bill for veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq. Filner describes the serious cut backs by this Congress on those benefits. This includes the 50,000 vets on medical lists waiting to see a doctor for months…even years.
Senate Candidate Shenna Bellows, Democrat from Maine, whom journalist John Nichols has called “possibly the future of progressive politics in America”, describes Maine’s extreme rightwing leadership. About Bellows' opposition, Republican Susan Collins, author Stephen King writes: “Senator Susan Collins is considered a moderate who compromises a lot. Sounds good, but when it comes down to casting votes that serve Mainers, she always seems to end up with her Republican colleagues, led by Mitch McConnell.”
Lila Garrett (Host of CONNECT THE DOTS)
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The Obama Administration Views Iraq and Syria as a “Single Challenge”, Reconsidering “Air Strikes”...
Timothy Alexander Guzman, Silent Crow News – The Obama administration is considering treating the crisis in Iraq and Syria in regards to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) as a “single challenge.” The Obama administration sees an opportunity by exploiting the crisis in Iraq since it failed to remove Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. First, Washington’s plan to remove Assad by supporting the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and other groups affiliated with Al-Qaeda failed when the Syrian forces defeated the rebels forcing them to withdraw. Then with Assad’s recent election victory, the international community (Except the US and its allies of course) has welcomed the results paralyzing Washington’s push to oust the Syrian government from power. The Washington Post published an article titled “White House beginning to consider conflicts in Syria and Iraq as single challenge” states that the situation overlaps between both Iraq and Syria, therefore, the US can possibly approach the situation with one strategy:
The Obama administration has begun to consider the conflicts in Syria and Iraq as a single challenge, with an al-Qaeda-inspired insurgency threatening both countries’ governments and the region’s broader stability, according to senior administration officials. At a National Security Council meeting this week, President Obama and his senior advisers reviewed the consequences of possible airstrikes in Iraq, a bolder push to train Syria’s moderate rebel factions, and various political initiatives to break down the sectarian divisions that have stirred Iraq’s Sunni Muslims against the Shiite-led government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
The Obama administration is contemplating whether to use “air strikes” against Syria and arm “moderate” rebels. “Although spreading faster in Iraq, the advance of ISIS could also force the administration to reconsider its calculations in Syria, where Obama has taken a cautious approach, declining to arm moderate rebel factions or conduct airstrikes on government airstrips, as some advisers have recommended” according to the Washington Post report.
Washington says that the threat imposed by ISIS erases the borders between Iraq and Syria so any military or political action taken for both countries would have a separate strategy. The report stated how Iraq and Syria would be treated differently according to the Obama administration:
Administration officials are also weighing a set of strategic and legal complications that in key ways will force U.S. policymakers to plan as if the border between the countries still exists, even though for the insurgency’s purposes it does not.
“Everybody here recognizes that you can’t silo what is happening in Iraq from what is happening in Syria,” said one administration official, who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the internal thinking. “There’s no doubt the border is melting away. But while we look at the two in tandem, our responses in each place will be very different”
If the border between Iraq and Syria does not exist, then “airstrikes” in either country would be justified since ISIS does not recognize any border that currently does exist.
Is the Obama Administration Following the Council of Foreign Relation’s Advice on Syria?
Council of Foreign Relations (CFR) member Eliot Abrams, a neoconservative and war criminal is calling for action against Syria with a ‘New Policy’ guideline recommending air strikes and rearming and training rebels. Abrams served under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush and one of the officials involved in the Iran-Contra Affair and El Salvador’s El Mozote Massacre that resulted in the deaths of more than 500 civilians wrote an article for the CFR titled ‘Syria: Humanitarian Disaster—and Security Threat’ Abrams proposes that the United States should reconsider training and arming rebels who are “anti-Assad” and “anti-jihadi” who are “composed of nationalist Syrian Rebels “since diplomacy has failed. Abrams even suggests training those who come from other forces. Abrams says that “The balance of forces will change when anti-jihadi groups can arm and train all the men they can attract, including attracting them from other forces to which they have gone because those forces were able to feed and clothe them and supply modern weapons”. Abrams also suggests that the United States should use air strikes against Syria’s chemical weapons depots. He states his case for military action on Syria:
Second, the United States should punish Assad for the continuing use of chemical warfare. This means an air strike robust enough to damage CW targets, including units that have used CW and any air assets ever used to deliver them. Any strike should at this point be broad enough to greatly restrict Assad’s ability to use air power as an instrument of terror. More broadly, punitive air operations should be considered to force the regime to allow humanitarian aid to quickly reach those who need it. And even more broadly, air strikes can both change the military balance on the ground and affect the political and psychological dimensions of the conflict by demonstrating a new American policy and new determination
It is no surprise that Eliot Abrams solution to the Syrian crisis (instigated by the West) is for Washington to continue to arm the rebels even those from other forces (perhaps ISIS, Al-Qaeda and Al-Nusra) and for the US military to conduct air strikes. First, let’s be clear, Abrams “new policy” is not new. They have been arming and funding the rebels since Syria’s civil war began. Abrams was a State Department official for human rights and Humanitarian Affairs then as Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs under the Reagan administration. Abrams’s was behind a US organized a counterrevolutionary army to carry out terrorist attacks against Nicaragua and supported right-wing dictatorships in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. He was a propagandist for US interests in Central America where he excused Nicaragua of human rights violations against the Miskito Indians. It was a campaign to portray the Sandinista government as Human rights violators in order to justify support for the contra army, which killed more than 10,000 Nicaraguans. US actions have devastated Central America. Today, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala suffer from extreme poverty and crime with the highest murder rates in the world. Elliot Abrams is now advising what Washington should do in the case of Syria. The Council on Foreign Relations is a think tank for the Western establishment or what US Vice-President Joe Biden would call the “New World Order.”
Elliot Abrams is working for a well funded organization that advises powerful members of Washington and its allies on foreign and domestic issues. In a speech at the CFR, Hillary Clinton acknowledged the CFR and its acting President Richard Haass has contributed to Washington’s policy makers over the years. She said “We get a lot of advice from the Council, so this will mean I won’t have as far to go to be told what we should be doing and how we should think about the future.” Well, Elliot Abrams is trying to ensure Washington follows a path to war against Syria which would destabilize the region even further. It is insanity. Abrams says that Syria is a threat to the US as “The refugee flows and the jihadi presence, which are both growing, constitute a threat to Syria, its neighbors, and the interests of the United States.” The Washington Post says that Iraqi President Maliki has asked for the United States to intervene in Iraq making it legal under international law:
Maliki has asked the administration to carry out airstrikes against Islamist insurgents in Iraq, an invitation that administration officials say would make intervention legal under international law. Obama has yet to decide if such strikes would be effective inside Iraq and what the consequences would be in Syria. The report also said that “No such invitation exists in Syria, even though moderate rebel groups fighting Assad would welcome U.S. military support”
Of course they would welcome US military support, after all, the US has been funding them from the beginning. The report clearly defines that there are no differences between the borders between Afghanistan and Pakistan where President Obama has authorized numerous drone strikes on both sides resulting in mass civilian casualties:
The U.S. training program for Syria’s moderate rebel forces, also at odds with ISIS, is taking place in Jordan under CIA supervision. That could expand under legislation pending before Congress, which would authorize the administration to allow the military to take over training, greatly expanding its scope, and potentially locating some of it inside Syria.
Officials have concluded that, like Afghanistan and Pakistan, where a porous border provided Islamist fighters with a refuge from U.S. military pursuit for years, the boundary between Iraq and Syria presents a similar challenge
For the Obama administration, they see it as a new opportunity to intervene in Syria. It is a perfect excuse for Washington’s “humanitarian intervention.” ISIS provides a cover for Washington’s long awaited objective to remove Assad and his government and regain a foothold into Syrian territory. The crisis will result in a US/NATO style intervention as they did in Libya. Obama recently sent in military advisors to Iraq escalating the crisis. The next step would be to set up drone strikes across Iraq, then eventually finding their way into Syrian territory. ISIS is a crisis for Iraq’s oil exports effecting world markets, but it is also an opportunity for Washington’s Middle East Agenda. Fox News reported that “Syrian and Iraqi terrorist forces obtained significant numbers of tanks, trucks, and U.S.-origin Humvees in recent military operations in Iraq and those arms are being shipped to al Qaeda rebels in Syria, according to U.S. officials.” ISIS is moving towards Syria’s border with newly acquired weapons they seized from Iraqi forces as Fox news stated what Pentagon Spokesman Commander Bill Speaks had said:
We’re aware of reports of some equipment—namely Humvees—and the pictures that have been posted online,” Speaks said in an email. “We are certainly concerned about these reports and are consulting with the Iraqi government to obtain solid confirmation on what assets may have fallen into ISIL’s hands
This is an opportunity for the US to launch drone strikes in Iraq and Syria. The Obama administration is currently weighing military options in the region. Will there be a war against Syria? Will Washington seize the opportunity because ISIS is now moving towards the Syrian border? It is a likely scenario, since Washington was running out of options concerning Syria. With ISIS in the picture, Washington’s hopes of removing Assad is back in full circle.