Iraq, from one horror to the other

bagdad cross saber

911. A famous emergency number that will become a date the World won’t forget.

It is commonly admitted that the 20th century really started in 1914, and we can honestly say that the 21st begins the day when 2 civilian planes crashed into the Twin Towers. The horror of a scene, played 24 hours a day for the next month, that would determine the next decade of US foreign policy over the Middle East.

19 terrorists responsible for not only the death of 2 977 innocent victims, but also for the next hundreds of thousands that would follow this ignominious act.

19 of which, 1 Lebanese, 2 Emirati, 1 Egyptian and the rest consisting of Saudis. All suspected to be linked to the Al Qaeda network, which is considered more as a “franchise of terror” than a terrorist organization itself.

A franchise and a majority of Saudis, two strong elements taken under consideration. Or not…

Terror has entered the Global World. Exactly like the Economy, it doesn’t have a nationality, but on the contrary a composite of many. It doesn’t deal with reason but in cold and terrifying absolute, seeing allies or ennemies, and nothing in between. It doesn’t stay in a single zone of conflict, but travels through the same commercial roads. To finally crash into what terrorists take for an arrogant symbol, exporting war as easily as goods, globalizing fear…

That’s the reason why in 2002, one statement from the Bush Jr’s administration about Iraq and its leader surprised everybody who knew a little bit about the region. On this October 7, Bush’s speech at the Cincinnati Museum Center, astonished many: “We know that Iraq and al Qaeda have had high-level contacts that go back a decade.”

A deafening silence from the occidental diplomacy followed, as frightening as the statement itself. Where did US intelligence find those so-called proofs and why did our own intelligence services didn’t know of such an incredible reality? Are we so blind and deaf about what is happening in Middle East that we could not even know of such a relation? Stupefaction!

Furthermore, not only Saddam’s regime was having a close relationship with Bin Laden’s Al Qaeda, but he also had WMDs. The World was discovering an extremely dangerous regime led by an extraordinary mad dictator, ready to use his weapons to destroy our way of life.

February 5, 2003, the much respected General Colin Powell shows to the whole World at the UN Security Council, the terrifying proof of Saddam Hussein’s madness. Impossible for him to be lying at the World’s face, UN Security Council is neither an ordinary performance hall nor a “shit-hole”. This assembly rules the destiny of this Earth, recognizes government’s legitimacy, promotes peace among the people, and this is exactly the aim of it. Lying there would denote a complete lack of respect towards the other members. Something Gaddafi accustomed us to, but not an American official…

So again, how could we possibly have missed it?

For sure, the US have resources that other countries don’t (satellites, drones,men). They know the region very well as they started to get there during Ibn Saoud’s rules, winning the petro-sterling vs petrodollar “warfare”. But seriously? Iraq responsible for the attacks? Iraq hiding Al Qaeda members?

France knows the country pretty well for being responsible of selling weapons to Saddam, but doesn’t buy the Al Qaeda link, in addition an US led invasion would be very harmful for Oil homogeneity of the Total corporation in the country.

The UN rejects an armed intervention. French’s threat of vetoes , seen as an incredible Human Right defense move, which in fact was only strategically driven, worked to prevent UN from getting in this mess.

If US failed to drive the UN Security Council into war, it didn’t fail to form a coalition and invade Iraq. This March 20th 2003 would flag the beginning of the Iraq war of 2003.

Why did we miss it?

Everybody missed it, because those two facts were lies, and that terrible truth didn’t take much time to emerge. What is most unbearable however, is the continuation of a guilty silence.

First of all, Saddam took the power with the Ba’ath political party, which was everything but religious. And the second part, the one about WMDs? Well, you can thank Mr Ahmed Chalabi for it.

For months the public was prepared to believe that Saddam was a fanatic islamist extremist and a lunatic dictator preparing his butchery. It may have been possible according to the Al-Anfal genocide on Kurds that he planned from 1986 to 1989.

But for the 2000’s, we could say that the media took a high responsibility in sharing those untrue facts and among them Judith Miller. The New York Times journalist even won a Pulitzer for the lies she wrote. To be fair, she could have been manipulated and played.  Even though, during the 90’s, Hussein Kamel Hassan al-Majid, a high ranked Iraqi military defector, and Saddam’s cousin, kept on saying that he destroyed Iraqi WMD program himself. But he died in 1996, and his claim had openly been altered.

Moreover, according to George Piro, the FBI agent who interrogated Saddam, at the beginning of the conflict only 1 out  of 1000 FBI agent could speak arabic.

From Sacred Alliance to civil War

barzani maliki talabani

Nevertheless, those lies, once they were clearly exposed, resulted in a very logical situation: a Muslim Sacred Alliance.

For the first time since a while, Sunni and Shia decided to fight their common enemy, aka US troops. Not for very long, we have to admit, because Paul Bremer’s administration quickly understood that Saddam’s “little game” of feeding the hatred between the believers wasn’t that “stupid” and gives a free hand. Realpolitik imposed its terrible reality.

The goal was now to establish, as fast as possible, a legitimate transition government with Shia, Sunni and Kurds. Easy?

  • A Kurd for President, because they very much suffered under Saddam’s rules.
  • A Shia for Prime Minister, because they suffered and they represent the majority of Muslims in Iraq.
  • Some Sunni here and there to ensure they are somewhere represented.

The old Levantine trick, each minority is anywhere in the arcana of politic.

As expected, Chalabi, the US champion, never had the opportunity to really fulfill his dream, and is now miserably hiding , forsaken by his powerful ally who understood that this liar could never  be accepted by the Iraqis.

General Powel:  "It has blotted my record, but – you know – there’s nothing I can do to change that blot. All I can say is that I gave it the best analysis that I could."

President Bush: "The biggest regret of all the presidency has to have been the intelligence failure in Iraq".

Let us fast forward until now….

Jealousy is coming back very fast.

 Talabani, the Federation actual President is the one who said that he was always keeping a bottle of champagne on ice for his guests. So much for a Muslim country… But what a pledge for a democratic Iraq! Of course, the Iraqi President doesn’t really rule the Federation, but nevertheless Talabani is much appreciated.

As for the Kurdish region, Talabani’s old opponent, Barzani, was elected new President of the young Kurdistan Regional Government. A good situation the KRG could finally enjoy a relative independence toward Bagdad. A first and well deserved position for this martyrized region.

And finally Al Maliki as Prime Minister, a Shia member of al-Dawa party. Al Dawa, founded by the Al Sadr family, has always been a strong ennemy for Saddam, especially through its armed wing “the Mahdi Army”. Not to mention its role in the Irangate, its link with the Hezbollah and the Pasdaran, the political party is nowadays one of the most powerful in Iraq.

But soon, the Arab Spring in addition to the Oil contracts are ruining the tenuous peace between Shia and Sunni, and dangerously awaken the old religious hatred once again.

Oil, the other Iraqi blood

Since 2003, Iraq Oil exportations completely collapsed. One of the most important producers of the OPEC could not ensure the world market’s expectations as the war and the invasion drove the country into massive disruption. Therefore, a series of events occurred. Iran under strict embargo could not take over; Saudi was the only one to truly ensure the oil supply.

iraq-peak-oil saudi_arabia_crude_oil_production_2001_2010

And all the Oil&Gas industry, knew very well that as soon as the situation would be stabilized in Iraq, the Oil would come back as well. But the more war was ongoing, the more Saudi would use its reserves and the more Iraq would become an important player in the future.

And obviously the time came, and obviously the tensions alongside…

The American disengagement as well as the Iranian engagement in Iraq, are changing the rules. Because since the beginning of the US intervention, Iran calculated that trivial fact, they knew that the US could not stay indefinitely and the Pasdarans immediately gave money to the Shia parties, “to help them” and patiently waited for the American to get out.

In parallel with the US disengagement, leaders started to arise.

Al Maliki, confident in his power, decided to strike first and condemned Vice President Al Hashimi to death. The Sunni political figure is accused of leading death brigades and orchestrating bombing attacks. Smelling the trap, he flew directly to the only one in Iraq strong enough to oppose Bagdad’s power, Barzani.

If this choice could astonish at first, Barzani and Al Hashimi are far from being good friends, it finally makes sense. Al Hashimi knew that Erbil and Bagdad were quarrelling about the future of Kirkuk.

Iraq has 2 main Oil regions:  the south near Basra and Shatt al-Arab and the North between Erbil and Kirkuk. When Basra is in the Shia hands, the North is in Kurds’.

Iraq fields

But Kirkuk’s situation hasn’t been stated yet. A referendum has been planned for December the 15th of 2007 but hasn’t taken place yet, always postponed by everybody (Federal Gov, KRG, USA, Saudi…).

Worse, Bagdad is, since July 2012, threatening all foreign Oil companies (Exxon, Total,…) with severe retaliations if they keep on signing deals with Erbil without asking the permission to Bagdad first.

Meanwhile, to save his life, Al Hashimi, after visiting Barzani, flew to Turkey where he stays under Ankara’s protection.

Adding to the pathos, Talabani who stays the only one cooling the “game”, has major health problems.

Without forgetting that the redhead self-appointed Ba’ath leader since Saddam’s execution, Izzat Ibrahim ad-Douri, is urging Iraqis to overthrow Al Maliki. Destabilizing even more an already destabilized situation.

Izzat Ibrahim ad-Douri is the 6th Iraq’s most wanted by the American army. The reward for information leading to the capture of the King of Clubs  used to be US$ 10 million and finally dropped to US$ 1 million nowadays. This fall in the price clearly demonstrates a loss of interest in his capture. Is it because he is less dangerous than before or is it because that the US are losing interest on the Iraq battlefield ?

The great fear would be now, the coming back of the dark hours of the old Muslim fratricidal conflict that could drive Iraq in madness once again. A country which doesn’t need another absurd war.

Hope nevertheless

sistani al sadr

Even if Ayatollah Sistani decided not to take part in the political life anymore, disappointed by Al Maliki’s election, he, from the Shia Holy city of Nadjaf, decided to support his old opponent Ayatollah Hussein Ismail al Sadr’s fatwa editing that civil war was haram (offense) and therefore no Arabic warrior dying while fighting Kurds would be recognized as a Shahid (martyr).

Raising the questions: Are clerics better than politics for maintaining peace in Iraq? Is Spiritual Power overthrowing Temporal Power?

Shias’ beliefs flirt with Sufi’s without forgetting the presence of the old Yazidi faith in those lands. Making Iraq a spiritual country filled with mystical traditions, starting with localisation of the Bible’s Garden of Eden between Tigris and Euphrates.

A country made by God to be Paradise which became Hell by Men’s hands.

It would probably make sense for both KRG and the Iraqi Federation, if Kurdistan becomes an independent country. But how would Turkey react?

(for other documentation: http://snip.it/collections/36893-Middle-East)

Poutsch Questions:

Is the Kurdistan Regional Government going to be an independent country? (Poutsch)

Are you afraid tensions between Shia and Sunni officials in Iraq could turn into a civil war? (Poutsch)

Are US intelligence in a good position to give intel about Syrian WMD after the Iraqi fiasco? (Poutsch)

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