USA, Maliki, ISIS and Iraq’s Sunni – It’s a long story. #100daysofblogging #Day15

ISIS - Made in the USASince I posted about the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Shams (ISIS) ‘seizing’ Mosul a few days ago, my understanding of the situation has progressed.

While it is true Mosul has fallen out of control of the Iraqi government and that ISIS flags have been raised, it is not clear that a Jihadist element is “in control’ of Mosul.

I have had conversations with Iraqi friends and they all certainly confirm the ‘fall’ of Mosul.

However, suggestions about who is ‘in control’ of Mosul vary. There are rumours of “Saddam’s men” being involved. Equally there are reports of foreign Jihadi’s and local sectarian militias. The reality is likely to be all three are involved.

They have been since the early days of the occupation of Iraq in 2003.

When I see reports suggesting Jihadist ISIS has $2.5bn worth of assets after ‘taking’ Mosul, I’m sceptical. There are a lot of things I’m sceptical about with the reporting of the situation, actually (read Juan Cole’s 7 myths).

I do not believe Baghdad is under any ‘threat’ of being captured by ISIS. They have no support base there. There is no way they could hold it. Continue reading USA, Maliki, ISIS and Iraq’s Sunni – It’s a long story. #100daysofblogging #Day15

Baghdad cleared or ‘al-Qaeda’? I call bullshit.

Al-Qaeda in Iraq has been cleared out of Baghdad by the US military. *BULLSHIT*.

Here’s what is really happening. The US invasion has piece-by-piece destroyed the very fabric of Iraqi society; beginning with it’s economy and family units during the invasion of 2003. Foreign interests have pushed tensions to boiling point and beyond, exacerbating the poverty and poor conditions in Iraq.

Eventually distrust and even hatred have become the unifying factor shared by many Iraqi’s. They distrust their extremists neighbours who support and supply the many dangerous terrorists and militia’s amongst both Iraqi Shia and Sunni. They HATE Al-Qaeda in Iraq. They HATE what Iraq has become since the US invasion. Though they may not all trust each other Iraqi’s are coming to realise they can’t trust anyone else to intervene in their internal conflicts, and as such are beginning to turn against the foreign elements who wish to control Iraq for their own purposes.

Here are a few of the catalysts behind this unification:

Firstly I will start by mentioning the biggest no-no. The decision by the US Senate that it would be a good idea to split Iraq along sectarian lines.

Secondly we have the Blackwater incident, which confirms the story we (who give a damn about Iraqi civilians) have KNOWN all along; that the foreign security contractors are trigger-happy and above the law.

Third is actually two-parts; part one is the constant pressure the US has placed on Iraq to pass oil-laws which would open oil-reserves to “private” investors. Part two is the recent deal made between the Kurdistan Regional Government and the Texan Hunt oil company.

And need I mention the al-Askari shrine bombings, the seemingly unreported rise of the  Badr Brigade militia in the aftermath of the 2003 invasion, extremist members of Al-Sadr’s Mehdi Army and their connections to Iran.

These are just some of the reasons why we can see an gradual easing sectarian tensions in Iraq and the fall of foreign extremist groups like Al-Qaeda in Iraq. It has little to do with the “surge” though some may disagree. Even a US soldier based in Fadhil district of Baghdad can confirm; the recent cleansing and actual reconstruction going on in that part of town was a localized event.

It was Baghdadis’ who rose to the challenge and expelled extremists from the area. It was Iraqi’s who have laid mains-capacity electrical cables in preparation for the arrival of new electrical generators promised by the US military. It was even Iraqi Sunni who expelled Sunni extremists from the formerly Shia parts of Fadhil and invited the displaced Shia families to return to their deserted houses with the promise of security.

Now lets hope the US delivers on their promise and that this process can be emulated across other parts of Baghdad.

Not to say that things are all well in Baghdad or across Iraq. There is still wide-scale aerial bombardment going on, suicide bombings and mafia-style kidnappings, extortions and general thuggish activity. The infighting still exists it’s just changed. There is shia-shia conflict between members of the Mehdi Army & Badr Brigade; and there too is conflict among the sunni. There are tribal conflicts too.

Nothing is going to change overnight, but it has been confirmed to me; Baghdad is improving at the moment- and I stress that point; “AT THE MOMENT”.

The Execution of Saddam Hussein

There are many reasons that Saddam Hussein’s execution will be remembered as one of the important political events of 2006, probably a close behind the Democratic takeover of Congress in the US.

There are so many points to discuss in considering whether this execution was a fitting end to Saddam’s tale, or whether there were better options. I for one believe the latter, and will be arguing so through-out this post. It may become a little long winded but I will try to stay on topic.

I for one believe an execution is definitely a fitting end to the rule of any tyrant- yet I also believe that a humans worth should be totally exhumed before the wasting of their life- and this is especially applicable to calculated, paranoid dictators like Saddam. Continue reading The Execution of Saddam Hussein

Religious extremism in post-Saddam Iraq

As a result of the US-lead invasion of 2003, religious extremism has become prominent in Iraq. Under Saddam Hussein religions were oppressed and all voices of opposition silenced. Religious extremism did not have a chance to receive the popular support it claims today (2006). Under the Coalition occupation much of Baghdad has fallen under the control of religious extremists, as has much of the Shiite-dominated south.

In other parts of Baghdad “neighbourhood watch” groups and resistance fighters’ man checkpoints to deter militiamen and “government forces” (23) from entering the area. Some of Islam’s worst extremist groups including “Al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia” managed to infiltrate the resistance under the guise of fighting the occupation. However their strategy of targeting Iraqi civilians made them extremely unpopular.

It was only by standing against the occupation that these religious extremist groups managed to establish themselves in Iraq. Given Iraq’s complex multi-cultural history, it is likely that had the occupation brought progress or not occurred at all these groups would never have risen to the level of prominence they hold in Iraq today.
Continue reading Religious extremism in post-Saddam Iraq